The Prague Zoo is thrilled to announce it has successfully bred a Pesquet’s parrot, a first for any zoo in continental Europe. The birth also marks a rare achievement for zoos all around the world. The chick, who was bred behind the scenes, is about two months old and requires hand-feeding by keepers around the clock (about every five hours!). The Pesquet's parrot’s (also known as the Dracula parrot) diet consists mostly of fruit. This is actually the reason their heads are mostly featherless – and thus they can avoid getting their feathers covered in sticky fruit juices.
The Pesquet's parrot’s range is the rainforests of the lower parts of the New Guinea Highlands. Here natives hunt it for its red feathers, which they use for decorating headdresses.
"According to a recent survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society, 8% of the total estimated population of eagle eagles is killed every year to meet local demand," said Miroslav Bobek, director of the Prague Zoo. "The conservationists came up with an interesting idea to protect the endangered bird. They distribute moth balls and other preventaive measures against insects, fungi and rodents so that the natives can preserve these headdresses for much longer. This eliminates the need to hunt Pesquet’s parrots to make new ones."
Unlike most other parrots Pesquet’s do not nest in the deserted hollows of trees.
"In order to stimulate nesting, they need to excavate the cavity in the rotting trunk themselves," says bird curator Antonín Vaidl of the requirements for successful breeding.
"We prepared a trunk for them and completely stuffed the cavity with shavings. They bit through the entrance hole and removed the shavings from the cavity, evoking this nesting adaptation.”
The sex of the chick is not yet known. Adult Pesquet’s parrots are bred by the Prague Zoo in the New Guinea exhibit of the Rákos Pavilion.