A popular safari park in Wiltshire is celebrating the safe arrival of an endangered chick.

Secretary birds, which are found across Sub-Saharan Africa are majestic large birds that can grow up to 1.3m in height with a two-metre wingspan - the longest of any bird of prey.

But despite covering a large range of sub-Saharan Africa, the species is currently endangered and in rapid decline due to the loss of their habitats, hunting and trade.

That's exactly why Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire is so thrilled to welcome the safe arrival of a newborn secretary chick, the child of permanent winged residents Janine and Kevin.

The newborn endangered chick being fed by its mother Janine.The newborn endangered chick being fed by its mother Janine. (Image: Longleat Safari Park)

The new chick's gender is not yet known, but its mum and dad, who are aged six and eight, have been living at Longleat since 2018 and are mates for life.

“It is so exciting to have a successful hatch of an endangered species that will hopefully be able to move on to another collection and create a new breeding programme in the future," said lead keeper of lakes and birds, Matt Hardy.

“We are providing extra smaller food items for the parents to give to the chick and as secretary birds can be very protective of their nests and chicks, we are ensuring they have as much space and peace and quiet as possible,” he added.

Parents Janine and Kevin are mates for life and they live and hunt together at LongleatParents Janine and Kevin are mates for life and they live and hunt together at Longleat (Image: Longleat Safari Park)

Secretary birds typically live for 12-15 years in the wild, and up to 19 years in captivity, and although the newest chick may look small and cute now, these giant birds are not a species to be messed with.

As the longest of any bird of prey, they use their wings to stamp on prey, exerting a force up to six times their body weight in just 15 milliseconds.

Their Latin name, Sagittarius sepentarius, literally translates to 'the archer of the snakes' because of their prowess at hunting snakes and other reptiles.

The young new family can now be seen in the drive-through safari near Longleat's rhino paddock. 

Staff at the site say they can't wait to continue their breeding programme and support the secretary bird species in increasing their numbers.