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Animals & Attractions

Great Argus Pheasant

Here at Edinburgh Zoo we have two great argus pheasants. The male arrived here in October 2010 whilst the female hatched in May 2002 and came to us from Antwerp Zoo, Belgium in June 2006.

Location in the Zoo

They can be found in the aviaries behind the Education Centre.

Breeding Programme Category:

The great argus are managed by the European Stud Book programme.

Listen to an argus call below:


Find out more


Not Endangered NE
Data Deficient DD
Least Concern LC
Near Threatened NT
Vulnerable VU
Endangered EN
Critically Endangered CR
Extinct in the wild EW
Extinct EX

Near Threatened

For more info on classifications visit


Relative to 6ft (2m) man Relative to 6ft (2m) man


Population decreasing, IUCN November 2013


  • Rainforests



Omnivore Omnivore
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In The Wild

As the name suggests, the Malayan great argus (Argusianus argus argus) is found in Malaysia, living in forests. They are also known as the argus pheasant.

They are a very striking bird with both males and females similar in appearance, although females are smaller and lack the elongated secondary wing feathers and tail feathers of the male. Both are mostly covered in long brown feathers, with a red-coloured chest and black feathers on the top of the head. Both sexes also have a blue, featherless face. As mentioned, males have greatly elongated secondary wing feathers and tail feathers that are decorated with thousands of iridescent "eye spots," or ocelli.

Although the argus roosts in the trees at night, it forages for food on the ground. Its diet consists of fruits, grains and insects.

For the majority of the year, males and females live alone, with each adult male argus having its own territory. As part of the mating ritual, the male will construct a ring out of sticks and twigs on the ground. He then calls to attract a female and entice her into the ring, where he performs a mating dance by approaching the female and spreading his wings wide to show off the "eye-spots" in his plumage. After mating, the female leaves and the male will then call for another female, mating with as many as possible.

The female will lay between two to four eggs on the ground, which she then incubates alone for approximately four weeks. The chicks are cared for only by the mother until they are self sufficient. The lifespan of the Malayan greater argus is approximately fifteen years.

Numbers of Malayan great argus are decreasing rapidly as a result of habitat loss due to logging and land conversion, as well as hunting and trapping for the cage-bird industry.

Great Argus Pheasant