Animals & Attractions

We currently have one female pheasant. She 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:


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

Get our latest offers, animal stories & event news straight to your inbox!