The Orinoco goose (Neochen jubata) is a “duck-sized” goose found in South America. Adults grow to 24-26 inches in length and weigh between 2.5 – 4 pounds, with males being slightly heavier than females. The color composition makes for a striking species. Both sexes are similar in appearance, with the head, neck and breast being a pale grayish-buff color. The belly and back are chestnut and the blackish wings, rump and tail have iridescent green to purple shading that contrasts with the white tail base. The bill is black and orange; feet are bright orange.
You have probably met our pair of Orinoco geese as they tour and checkout the facility. This daily procedure has become so routine that you can predict their probable location, based on the time and activity at the DWA. Night security tries to limit their access to portions of the buildings by pulling the sliding doors at the River Exhibit, if there are no evening events. This keeps them out of the theater, with its leather seats and the Education entrance and office, where it is carpeted.
While most guests are accustomed to seeing birds overhead in the free-flying areas, the Orinoco geese prefer to walk on the pathway as they explore and inspect the Gift Shop – a daily ritual. This is often prior to our opening, as they seem to avoid the crowds. It is amusing to watch how they go up and down each aisle and eventually check on the outdoor Blue penguins. Becoming more daring, they habitually frequent the Orinoco crocodile area.
The pair has built nests and laid eggs, which up until recently, have not been fertile. It was a pleasant surprise when we found a nest with seven eggs above Jungle Café. The eggs were removed and placed in an incubator. Three of the eggs were fertile and the hatchlings soon became the “cutest” babies in the nursery. Hopefully they will become part of the rainforest exhibit, but until then, watch out for their very territorial parents on your next visit.