Visitors to the Prague Zoo can best observe the pinecone between 9 and 10 in the morning, i.e. immediately after the zoo opens, when the Indonesian Jungle pavilion’s night exhibit is still in daytime light mode. At that time, it often deftly climbs the branches. Photo by Oliver Le Que, Prague Zoo

On February 2nd, the first European-bred nutcracker chick will be one year old. Šiška is already weighed over three kilograms and eats roughly two-thirds of her parents’ ration every day.

Prague Zoo has prepared an extraordinary program for the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. and a guided birthday feeding at 3:30 p.m. at the short-tailed nutcracker exhibit in the Indonesian jungle nocturne.

“Šiška lives to be a year old, and during that time she has become not only the first nuthatch bred in Europe – which is a great achievement in itself – but thanks to public interest, she has also become an ‘ambassador’ for wild nuthatch, helping to spread awareness of the threat to this group of animals by illegal hunting and trade,” said the director of the Prague Zoo, Miroslav Bobek, recalling the toast dedicated to Šiška, which was sent to the Prague Zoo by Jane Goodall.

The pine cone is the first cultivated nutmeg in Europe. In a year of her life, she became an “ambassador” of wild-living nutcrackers and thus successfully spreads awareness about the critical situation of these only scaly mammals in the world in the wild. Photo by Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

However, the first weeks of the baby’s life were not without problems. Siška had a reasonable postpartum weight and she did not lack the zest for life, and her mother Run Hou Tang also took excellent care of her, but the problem was that she did not have enough breast milk. However, thanks to the lactation support products given to Run Hou Tang and the artificial feeding of Šiška, this unfavorable situation was resolved relatively quickly.

“Today, Šiška is already fully independent and lives in its own exhibition – from the visitors’ point of view, it is the first one next to the outhouses. She expertly prepares a nest in a house and likes to climb trees. Visitors can best see her in the first hour after the zoo opens when there is still daylight in the exhibit,” says breeder David Vala. Šiška’s parents, female Run Hou Tang and male Guo Bao, have successfully mated again in recent months. With any luck, an ultrasound examination could confirm the possible pregnancy already in the next few weeks.

Prague Zoo is the only Czech zoo and one of two in Europe that is proud of these scaly mammals. The main motivation for their breeding stems primarily from their threat. Nutcrackers are massively hunted in Africa and Asia and have long been among the most illegally traded mammals in the world.

The beginnings of Šiška’s life were not without problems. Although she was born healthy and with a reasonable postpartum weight of 135 grams, her mother Run Hou Tang did not produce enough breast milk. Supplemental feeding and substances to support lactation, however, solved the problem and today Šiška already weighs over three kilograms. Šiška is pictured last March at the age of one month. Photo by Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

Prague Zoo strives to protect them both in Cameroon, where it runs the educational project Roaming Bus and in Southeast Asia, where it supported the construction of rescue stations. A nice gift for Šiška on her first birthday would certainly be to support the protection of her wild relatives. People can do so by transferring any amount to the collection account of the Prague Zoo We help them survive (no.: 43–680 466 0247/0100) or by purchasing souvenirs in the e-shop in the section called We help them survive: https://eshop.zoopraha .cz/souvenyry/pomahame-jim-prezit.html. And last but not least, of course, a visit to the Prague Zoo.