The first crested ibis has hatched after its mother underwent artificial insemination as part of a programme in southwest China to protect the species’ numbers, according to a newspaper report. The chick was born at a breeding station at Mount Emei in Sichuan province, the West China City Daily reported. About 50 crested ibis were collected in Henan, Zhejiang and Shaanxi provinces last year and taken to the centre to take part in the breeding programme, according to the article. The first egg was laid in March and finally hatched last week. Staff had to crack open the top of the egg after the bird’s head got stuck. Endangered bird faints from hunger after failing to catch prey in China’s choking smog The tiny chick has been placed in an incubator to help ensure its survival. Three scientists at the Sichuan Academy of National Resources Sciences are taking care of the newborn 24 hours a day, the report said. It lives on a mixture of worms, yolk, apple, mudfish and milk and has seven to eight meals a day. The bird should be able to fly 60 days after birth. A national protection programme has helped increase numbers of the birds from seven to about 2,000 after more than 30 years, according to previous state media reports.