20/02/2018

Kea chicks hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Three kea chicks have hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens helping to safeguard the population of these endangered birds.

The Zoo, which is the fifth oldest in the world, now has seven keas which were voted Bird of the Year in their native New Zealand in 2017.

The population of keas in Zoos and wildlife parks is really important because in the wild they are classified as endangered.

This is mainly because they nest on the ground and are preyed upon by possums, cats and stoats that people introduced to New Zealand.

But they have also been the victims of hunters which has reduced their numbers dramatically.

Some 150,000 birds were shot between 1860 and 1970. Their population is now estimated at somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000.

Keas have olive green with orange underwings and are inquisitive birds especially where people are concerned.

Andy Cope, senior bird keeper at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “They are known for being around ski resorts in New Zealand pulling the seals off from around car windows.

“To them people provide something that’s interesting and novel, so we are just the providers of play items.”

There have been kea at Bristol Zoo for decades and keepers have been successful at breeding them.

The newly hatched kea chicks are currently safe in their nest but are expected to fledge in the coming weeks.

Andy said: “Keas are widely regarded as the only true alpine parrot. They are busy and exciting birds and cold weather parrots which means they are out and about for people to see all year round.”

He said it would be some time before keepers know the sex of the chicks but he said they were all progressing well.

Keas were given their name by the Maori, indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, for the sound of their call.

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