Flu≠ y kea parrot chick adds to zoo baby boom
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