01/05/2020

Kea chicks hatch here at the Zoo

​Two kea chicks have hatched here at Bristol Zoo Gardens, helping to safeguard the population of these endangered birds.

The fluffy arrivals are the latest in a host of successful hatchings for the birds, with five born at the Zoo over the past two years.

It’s a great achievement for our bird keepers as there have been just 20 keas raised in captivity across Europe during that time. Bristol Zoo, which manages the European breeding programme for this species, is now home to seven keas in total.

Now 11 weeks old, the birds have recently fledged the nest, but it will be some time before they are independent of their parents.

Bird keeper Kylie Abram said: “Keas are wonderful birds, hugely intelligent and inquisitive, but as chicks they are much more reserved and stay close to the nest for some time. It will take a while for their true characteristics to appear.”

She added: “Keas can be quite tricky to breed, fortunately we have a very experienced and successful breeding pair, and we are delighted to welcome these two latest additions to their large and busy family.”

The captive population of these birds is highly important as they are classified as endangered in their native New Zealand. This is mainly because they nest on the ground and are preyed upon by possums, cats and stoats.

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 in the wild is now estimated at about 6,000 birds.

Keas are the only species of mountain parrot. They are olive green coloured with orange underwings. The species was given its name by the Maori, indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, for the sound of their call.

We have recently launched an appeal to ensure the future of our work saving wildlife. Its aim is to safeguard Bristol Zoo Gardens, Wild Place Project and our conservation projects in 10 countries across the world. This is following the temporary closure of both our sites in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Find out more, or make a donation here.

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