St James's Park welcomes three Great White pelicans as they take up residence in the Royal Park in front of Buckingham Palace.
The trio, one called Tiffany, help maintain a 349-year tradition that attracts and delights millions of visitors to the park every year. The first pelican to grace the Royal Parks was a gift from the Russian Ambassador to King Charles II in 1664 and the colony has thrived ever since.
The young Great White Pelicans - a gift from the City of Prague - are the result of a remarkable collaboration of the Royal Parks Foundation, The Royal Parks, Prague Zoo and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, which will ensure the majestic birds flourish in their new home on St James's Park Lake.
Visitors to the Royal Parks Foundation website will be invited to help name one of the beautiful birds by voting for their favourite name from a list at www.SupportTheRoyalParks.org. These include Bela, Bety, Karola, Pearl, Queenie, Ruby and Isla.
A precision-planned operation transported the pelicans from Prague in a climate-controlled vehicle with specially mounted cameras so the birds could be observed at all times. Animal welfare officers checked them regularly during the 800-mile trip.
They then enjoyed a pampered introduction to life in St James's Park, spending around two months in a specially fitted out enclosure where an experienced and skilled team monitored their progress as they acclimatised to their new surroundings.
Once the wildlife officer felt they were settled, the three pelicans were cleared to join existing residents: Gargi, Vaclav and Louis to enjoy the delights of the lake and Pelican Rock.
The pelicans' arrival was co-ordinated by the Royal Parks Foundation - the charity for London's eight Royal Parks - and funded by a generous gift from The Tiffany and Co. Foundation in New York. Prague Zoo donated the birds and vet Nic Masters and wildlife transport specialist Matthew Ford gave their time and expertise for free to make the import happen.
Sara Lom, CEO of the Royal Parks Foundation, said:
"Pelicans have a special connection with St James's Park. The heritage stretches back to the reign of Charles II.
"As the existing colony grows older, we are very excited to be helping to introduce three young pelicans to the Park and I'm sure the public will be fascinated to see them.
"The birds are a gift from Prague Zoo and the teams involved have worked and planned for a long time to make sure the pelicans' arrival was smooth and as comfortable as possible. They have been in good hands throughout and are now settling into the magnificent environment in St James's Park."
Miroslav Bobek, Director of Prague Zoo, said:
"The three pelicans were all born in captivity in 2012 as part of our successful Eastern White breeding programme. They could go on to live into their 30s. We are delighted to be collaborating with The Royal Parks."
The three new pelicans joined existing residents: Louis, Vaclav and Gargi which are all now over 20 years old.
Mark Wasilewski, Manager of St James's Park, said:
"The pelicans are part of the Park's history and the team here is very excited about their arrival. These beautiful animals have brought joy to visitors for generations, while also promoting greater interest in the birds and their conservation."
Fernanda Kellogg, Chair of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, said:
"We are very excited to be involved in the project to bring three more pelicans to St James's Park and we are thrilled that one has been named Tiffany.
"Now we hope the public will help us choose the names for the other young female."
The pelicans have safe havens away from the public and predators. A wildlife officer feeds them fish every day (the three new pelicans absolutely love mackerel and sprats!), and ensures they are in good health and, although they are free to roam, the pelicans rarely stray far from the lake.
Pelicans have the second largest wingspan of all living birds (up to 3m, second only to the albatross) and have enormous bills that can measure up to 47cm. A pelican can eat 2kg of fish a day.The collective noun for a group of pelicans is a scoop.
The list of proposed names for the female pelican is online at www.SupportTheRoyalParks.org, and the poll will close on Tuesday 16th April 2013.