First hand-rearing of Kakapo Strigops habroptilus: at the Auckland Zoological Park


  • M. D. SIBLEY

    1. Zoological Projects, Auckland Zoological Park, Motion Road, Western Springs, Auckland I, New Zealand
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      Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


The Kakapo Strigops habroptilus is an endangered parrot with less than 50 birds known to survive in the wild. In 1989 the New Zealand Department of Conservation developed a recovery plan to manipulate the relict population in an attempt to increase breeding success. In 1992, Auckland Zoo received three chicks for hand-rearing which had been removed from nests in the wild because of their critically low body weights and the threat from predators. The chicks were housed under controlled temperature and lighting regimes and fed Roudybush Formula 3 hand-rearing mix. Weight gains lagged behind those recorded for parent-reared chicks although physical development was similar. At the age of about ten weeks two chicks died from pneumonia possibly induced by inhalation of food particles. The surviving chick was weaned and transferred to a semi-captive environment where it developed into a healthy adult. This is the first successful hand-rearing of a Kakapo and the data provide baseline information for future attempts at rearing the species.