Flu≠ y kea par­rot chick adds to zoo baby boom

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By DanikaWor­thing­ton DanikaWor­thing­ton: dwor­thing­ton@ den­ver­post. com, 303- 954- 1337 or @ dani_ worth

The Den­ver Zoo is hav­ing a baby boom.

The zoo on Wed­nes­day an­nounced its first suc­cess­ful hatch­ing of a kea, a vul­ner­a­ble New Zealand par­rot. Scar­let, hatched Feb. 8, is still be­ing cared for by zookeep­ers but will make a pub­lic de­but soon, ac­cord­ing to zoo of­fi­cials.

Her ar­rival in­creases the pop­u­la­tion of keas in North Amer­i­can zoos to 38 — 14 of which are fe­male, the Den­ver Zoo said.

Scar­let’s jour­ney so far has been some­what tu­mul­tuous. Kea hatch­ings are some­what rare. Zookeep­ers de­signed a large nest boxwith a tun­nel en­trance that en­ticed Scar­let’s mother, Anna, to breed with her mate, Sorento, re­sult­ing in four eggs.

The zookeep­ers had every in­ten­tion of let­ting the par­ents- tobe in­cu­bate the eggs and rear the chicks them­selves. But the in­ex­pe­ri­enced par­ents broke two of the eggs, forc­ing zookeep­ers to re­move the re­main­ing eggs and in­cu­bate them ar­ti­fi­cially. Of those, Scar­let was the only one to hatch. She is the first chick for both Anna and Sorento.

Zookeep­ers, who have been hand- rear­ing Scar­let, plan to re­turn her to her par­entswhen she’s old enough.

Cur­rently a gray fluff ball, Scar­let will grow up to be olive- green with a red­dish- or­ange col­or­ing un­der her wings. Adult keas can reach 19 inches in length and weigh 2 pounds.

The kea ( pro­nounced kee- uh), one of the few alpine par­rot species, is found pri­mar­ily in the moun­tains of the South Is­land of New Zealand. It’s hard to pin down the ex­act pop­u­la­tion in the wild, but ex­perts es­ti­mate it to be be­tween 3,000 and 5,000. The Den­ver Zoo said the ac­tual num­ber could be sig­nif­i­cantly lower.

The birds are clas­si­fied as vul­ner­a­ble by the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture. They face mul­ti­ple threats, in­clud­ing hu­man- an­i­mal con­flict and pre­da­tion by in­tro­duced species, such as stoats and pos­sums.

Scar­let is the lat­est in a string of new­ba­bies at the zoo. Miso- Chi, a rare fish­ing cat, was born Jan. 25. Also, Dobby the gi­raffe was born Feb. 28 af­ter a sur­prise preg­nancy.

Den­ver Zoo’s first kea chick, Scar­let, is be­ing reared by hu­mans at the Avian Prop­a­ga­tion Cen­ter. Den­ver Zoo

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