Goose, Egyptian


Alopochen aegyptiacus


Different shades of brown and orange, with a chestnut colored ring around the eyes.  The under surface of the wings are white with black and green patches.

Family

Anatidae

Order

Anseriformes

Class

Aves

Range

Sub-Saharan Africa

Habitat

Diversity of wetlands and open meadows from sea level to 13,000 feet above sea level.

Life Expectancy

20 years

Sexual Maturity

1 year

Diet

In the wild, they eat grasses, leaves, seeds and occasionally worms and locusts. In the Zoo, they are fed a waterfowl pelleted diet.

Status

IUCN - Least Concern

Behaviors

The Egyptian Goose seldom flies unless taken by surprise. It is more inclined to walk away from danger. When it does fly it uses slow wing beats. In groups, they may fly in an irregular V-shaped formation or in long lines. They will perch/roost freely in trees, on buildings and cliffs and on the backs of dozing hippos. To feed the Egyptian Goose forages by grazing on shore. Grasses, leaves, seeds and the occasional worm or locust may be consumed. Egyptian Geese breed year-round. Typically nesting occurs during the local spring or at the end of the dry season. Sustained monogamous pairs aggressively defend territories of up to 2.5 acres on large waterways. Social disputes provoke considerable persistent calls from both sexes. During the breeding season, pairs become especially demonstrative and quarrelsome. The noisy, wheezy hisses of the gander are reminiscent of husky, asthmatic breathing or the hissing of a steam engine. Copulation normally occurs in the water, though pairs may stand in shallow water and more rarely on shore. Pairs may breed within colonies of cliff-nesting vultures. Large nests may be appropriated from African Fish Eagles, Goliath Herons, crows, darters and Hamerkops. Nesting sites may also include rocky, unvegetated areas such as caves. Trees up to 80 feet tall may be used as well as cliffs as high as 200 feet. After hatching the young are prompted to leap from these nests by calls from the female. Gosling predators include kites, monitor lizards, hinged tortoises, and snakes. Various mammals and crocodiles pose a threat to the adults. The young achieve flight by their 11th week, but remain with their parents for several weeks afterwards. After the breeding season, Egyptian Geese congregate in large “molting flocks.”

Adaptions

The Egyptian Goose has adapted well to human encroachment. It has benefited from the construction of dams and irrigation systems throughout Africa.

Special Interests

The Egyptian domesticated form of this goose disappeared following the conquest of Egypt by Persians in 525 BC. Early South African Boers maintained them in a semi-domesticated state because of the vigilance and promptness these geese have in sounding the alarm whenever danger is first detected. The Egyptian Goose is the most widespread of the African waterfowl. In southern Africa, the Egyptian Goose is regarded as a pest as it will do considerable damage to sprouting wheat.

Folklore

To the Ancient Egyptians this goose represented the sacred bird of Geb (God of Earth) whose head was surmounted by a goose. This bird is prominently depicted in old Egyptian art and was widely consumed by the Pharaohs. Eggs, however, were never eaten because these were in the shape of the sun and possessed religious significance and symbolic power.

Conservation

The Egyptian Goose is in no immediate danger of extinction. There are approximately 200,000 – 500,000 inhabiting East and South Africa. Another 10,000 – 25,000 can be found in West Africa.

Jacksonville Zoo History

The first ones appear in the animal collection in January 1981. This species has successfully reproduced here.

Exhibit

Plains of East Africa