Peregrine Falcon Crowd Favourite At Taronga Zoo

A crowd favourite at Taronga Zoo is Khan the peregrine falcon, particularly when he soars as high as 100 metres into the sky and then spectacularly crashes back down to earth to catch prey. Despite his immense popularity Khan was not always such a big bird at the zoo. He first had to take baby steps to learn his craft and was spoon fed right up until he had enough confidence to learn the ropes.

“We started small with Khan offering him rewards for just hopping onto our hands,” Taronga Zoo’s bird show keeper Brendan Host said.

Training very similar to a dog

Mr. Host has worked with the falcon for a decade and said training him was very similar to training a dog. He used positive reinforcement to train Khan usually in the form of food. Peregrine falcons are known well known for their amazing speeds which reach North of 380 Km/h. Khan is a bit of a snob when it comes to food, turning his nose up at chicken and eating only human grade quail.

“Khan is a stud, and he knows it. The zoo wants its visitors to have an emotional experience with the birds and Khan has the ability to get people to care,” Mr. Host said.

Khan is an entertainer

When he is performing Khan regularly struts across the front of the stage enabling spectators to get a close up and on occasion he has been known to fly over to the elephant barn. Khan was handed into to Taronga Zoo by a Sydney local. The original handler had been looking after Khan well, feeding and playing with him daily. However Khan could not be released back into the wild because he had become too accustomed to the high life.

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