Dummy eggs are sometimes required to be placed in nests by the zoo's bird keepers if real eggs are taken to be hand reared. This kind of incubation is sometimes done
if the eggs are important and there are fears that they might be accidentally broken by the parents. The eggs are then returned to the parents when they start to hatch.
137 eggs have been made in total by members of
the renowned South West Devon woodturning club, Woodbury Woodturners Club, with the smallest being a mere centimetre in length and the largest measuring a stellar 20 centimetres. The idea arose when Senior Head Keeper
of Birds at the zoo, Pete Smallbones, found out that his Front of House co-workers, Justin Fuller and Izzy Warren, had taken up woodturning as a hobby.
Pete commented: "We were talking and the idea of turning
wooden eggs for the Bird department came up - and they really rose to the challenge." Although his initial request had been for dummy flamingo eggs, the woodturners ended up using a range of woods - from sycamore
and yew to oak and beech - to create eggs in a much broader assortment of shapes and sizes.
Izzy, Justin and numerous members of the woodturners' club contributed eggs, which in some cases entailed just five minutes'
work, and in other instances took as long as half an hour to make. Pete said that the zoo now had "a huge range of dummy eggs of different sizes - the smallest will be good for the shamas, the larger ones will be
ideal for ostrich or flamingo. We really do appreciate this pretty amazing gift."
Meanwhile, Phil Knowling, spokesperson for Paignton Zoo, declared the eggs to be "real works of art" - and on the
evidence of what The ToolPost's team has seen of them, we would certainly agree! If you're stuck for something to do for the rest of August when our shop remains closed on Saturdays, you might just want to go along to
the Paignton zoo and see if you can distinguish between the real eggs and their remarkably well-crafted and convincing dummy counterparts. Or maybe turn a few eggs of your own!