Wally finds himself a surrogate mum

AN ORPHANED stork has found himself a surrogate mother... in the shape of his dedicated keeper at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

Although nothing like his own feathered species, Wally the white stork has become remarkably attached to Mandy Patch, the senior bird and reptile keeper at the Wraxall attraction.

She has raised him from a chick and feeds him daily, which has resulted in him looking to her as a parent. Known as imprinting, birds which are hand-reared almost exclusively by one person may form a close attachment with them.

With previous broods of stork eggs raided by passing herons and an apparent difficulty in rearing shown by stork parents Stephan and Stephanie, staff at Noah’s Ark decided to incubate the last clutch of eggs to improve the chance of success.

After losing two of the eggs during the sensitive incubation period, keepers were desperate to save the last one and see it hatch. Thanks to their hard work, Wally came into the world in May.

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Mandy said: “After spending so much time with him, Wally thinks I’m his mum and has become my little shadow as I take him for his walk each day around the site.”

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