A breeding program for silver pheasant?
An 83 years old Thai lady clapped her hands when she saw the Dokmai Garden silver pheasant and remarked “They are so delicious”. Indeed, but they have been hunted to the brink of extinction in the wild. We tried to breed them in an aviary with a soil floor covered with litter and bushes, but that failed since the male found and ate the eggs. A surrogate mother (a hen) managed to hatch two little silver pheasants but they died too. We bought our couple from the zoo, and perhaps they were already inbred?
Our female disappeared one night and we took the decision to release the male. He has become a tourist attraction and a family pet, walking about as he wishes, sleeping high up in his orchid coated mango.This is a quiet bird, contentedly humming when eating or greeting visitors, and he seems to like everyone except a Thai lady who showed up in an elegant black and white dress. The instincts of our feathery friend took charge of his dinosaur brain and he attacked her, apparently thinking the lady was a large male silver pheasant.
Although he can fly away, his bad experience from being caught between the jaws of a stray dog seems to be in fresh memory and so he stays with us. Since he recovered so well from the injury inflicted by the dog, we believe he can still be a part of a breeding program. The short-term goal would be to breed them in the garden, like our chicken, using the management of ‘survival of the fittest’ and no cage. The long-term goal would be to share the Dokmai Garden population with the national parks when the illegal hunting is a curious memory of the past (10-20 years from now). We therefore ask our many readers if they have or know of a breeder other than the Chiang Mai zoo, who would be able to contribute with a female to strengthen the genetical pool?
Eric & Ketsanee