Recently Zealandia has had a special visitor. Sirocco is a Kakapo who has been on tour around New Zealand (Auckland a few years back, Dunedin before coming to Wellington) and as official Spokesbird for Conservation he spreads the conservation message (well, his staff do) while also giving the public the chance to get close to one of the few remaining Kakapo left. Currently there are around 135 Kakapo in New Zealand. Sirocco had an illness while very young and was hand raised for a time and this has led him to imprint on humans so he is very comfortable around people (at times too comfortable). Most of the time Sirocco lives in the wild on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), though even there we were told he sets up his Lek (a cleared bowl area from where the Kakapo male attempts to attract a female) between the ranger hut and the outside longdrop so he can attract a suitable mate.

At Zealandia Sirocco has been spending his days a specially fenced off section of forest and at night he comes out into a display area where he gets fed and a ranger from the Kakapo Recovery Programme gives a talk about the Kakapo conservation effort. The night we attended was cool and calm and we got a good view of Sirocco as he wandered the enclosure and then hopped onto the scales held by the ranger and checked us out as we were educated. Big and cuddly looking it’s easy to see why the Kakapo were hunted down near to extinction, slow and flightless while also quite large they probably made quite a good meal and the feathers would no doubt look good on clothing with the rich green and earthy colours.

Sirocco the rock star Kakapo at ZealandiaPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Meeting Sirocco.

Sirocco the rock star Kakapo at ZealandiaPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Quietly posing for a photo.

Sirocco the rock star Kakapo at ZealandiaPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

On the hunt for macadamia

Sirocco the rock star Kakapo at ZealandiaPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Goodbye

With multiple tours each night we had around 20 minutes with Sirocco. It was a memorable meeting and with the small group of people it was easy enough to move around and get a good look. The commentary was informative and friendly with plenty of opportunity for questions. It was a good visit, hopefully in the coming years the population expands and more people get to meet these interesting birds.

Fairy lightsPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Fairy lights show the way

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