Slimbridge’s pelicans are no longer without names thanks to the efforts of pupils at a nearby primary.
For the past year, staff have struggled to come up with names to fit the bill for the quirky pair so approached local schools to ask the nest generation to help them solve the problem.
Classes from Cam Everlands Primary School, Slimbridge Primary School and Hillesley Primary School flocked to enter, putting forward a super selection of names for the wonderful wetland birds. The children at Hillesley Primary School even submitted impressive colourful illustrations to match their suggestions.
Such was the standard of entries that trainer Selina Reid had a hard time picking the winners, but in the end decided two names soared above the others. They were Sky and Sam, put forward by students in class five at Slimbridge Primary School.
“We had so many great suggestions that it wasn’t easy picking the winners.
“However in the end, it had to be Sky and Sam which I think suits our pelicans just perfectly.
“Now that they have names, training should be easier as they continue to develop and grow. They’re such distinctive birds with such distinctive personalities and now they have names to match.”
The winning class will visit Slimbridge early next year for a beak preview of the pelicans before they’re introduced to the public.
A spokeswoman for Slimbridge Primary added:
“The children thoroughly enjoyed thinking of names for the pelicans and they were thrilled to have won the competition. We’re all really looking forward to meeting them in the New Year.”
The pink-backed pelicans joined Slimbridge last year from very different circumstances. Confident Sky was hand-reared while Sam, the warier of the two, was parent-reared on an island in Longleat.
Selina has been working with the pelicans so that they will be able to display natural behaviours such as ducking for fish on cue to give visitors an insight into their incredible life in the wild. She has until next summer to prepare these clever birds to feel at ease during live displays in front of audiences of over 300 people.
Pink-backed pelicans come from central Africa, where they live near shallow freshwater lakes, rivers and pools. They’re friendly and outgoing, living and breeding in loose social groups, even alongside other species.
They’ve been settling in nicely to their new home on the banks of the Severn where they’ve established themselves as quite the characters among staff.
The addition of Sky and Sam to the reserve’s vast array of wetland birds is part of Slimbridge 2020, an amazing new project that will transform Slimbridge by offering visitors inspirational and immersive wildlife experiences.
Highlights include opening up Sir Peter Scott’s house to the public for the very first time and the ground-breaking Living Wetland Theatre and Aviary which will provide 380 seats in an innovative open air space to showcase WWT’s work with free flight demonstrations and interactive shows.