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Denver Zoo Raises Palm Cockatoo Count by Two!

Denver Zoo Palm Cockatoo 1

Denver Zoo recently welcomed two Palm Cockatoos from two different breeding pairs. The chicks hatched on January 18 and February 10 and their genders are still unknown. Though the hatchlings will eventually be on display at the zoo's Nurture Trail exhibit, they are currently growing and developing under the watchful eye of bird keepers in the zoo's Bird Propagation Center. These are the second and third Palm Cockatoo chicks to be hatched at North American Zoos in the last year.

Denver Zoo Palm Cockatoo 2
Photo credits: Denver Zoo / Dave Parsons

Palm cockatoos are unique among other cockatoos for their dark-gray or black feathers, which cover most of their bodies, with the exception of red patches on their cheeks. They are about two-feet-long and have developed large, very strong beaks which allow them to crack open and eat extremely hard nuts.

The species is difficult to breed in captivity and even in the wild only hatch one egg about every other year. Denver Zoo has developed a prolific breeding and care program for the species. These two newest chicks are the first born in the United States in 2011 and only the second and third in the world in the last 12 months in a zoo. To maintain a sustainable captive population, Denver Zoo's newest chicks were conceived under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals.

The birds are known for their intelligence. Not only are they known to have a sizeable range of whistles and communication methods, but they are also said to be able to use tools, a rarity among birds.

Palm cockatoos are found in southern Indonesia and the northeast tip of Australia. While they are classified as "least concern" by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), their population numbers have never been quantified. Their greatest threat comes from human encroachment and habitat loss.