Western Ground Parrot at Perth ZOO, first attempt to breed it in captivity?

January 12th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Western Ground Parrot at Perth ZOO, first attempt to breed it in captivity?

The breeding of the very unique Western Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus) has started in the australian Perth ZOO. It’s the first time of keeping this critically endangered parrot in captivity. There are only last 140 individuals living in the wild and seven of them went to the Perth ZOO in July. The breeders hope now to reproduce this species so the genetic pool for future population reinforcement in the wild will be established. The conservation project has to face the fact that this parrot species is extremely inconspicious. That’s why we actually don’t know much about biology of the Western Ground Parrot. There are many video cameras placed in the breeding facility so hopefully they will show us something new.



Western ground parrot has a special aviary design at Perth ZOO

Parrots are recorded for 24 hours a day, four of them are in the aviary and the fifth is in their nest. The curator of native fauna in Perth ZOO Arthur Ferguson has already prepared some ideas how to make the captive life of Western Ground Parrot more natural. “Obviously we’ll be focussing on diet, trying to provide the birds with the correct nutrition,“ said Mr Ferguson for ABC News. “Apart from that we’ll be providing the birds with multiple nesting opportunities, we’ll be providing artificial nest sites, as well as what we believe will be more naturalistic nest sites, for the birds to try and promote a sense of security and really hopefully encourage them to breed,” he explained.

This parrot represent a very unique bird species because belong among only five parrot species which nest on the ground. “There’s a lot of unique behaviours they’ve evolved to run along the ground and stay fairly well hidden,” said Mr Ferguson and added: “They are very cryptic and secretive and quite hard to monitor.” Actually this beaviour is very similar to ethology of their close relative the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) which was considered as extinct up to the last year when the ornithologist John Young documented its existence. The Western Ground Parrot has used to inhabit the whole coast of West Australia. However, nowadays we will find it only in two reserves within the southern coast.


Reared Western ground parrot babies will be returned into the wild

The biggest enemies of this species are predators which destroy their nests and kill adult females with offsprings. Fires destroying their natural habitat represent another threat. “Having some of the birds in a seperate location in a captive breeding program will provide a safeguard should there be some natural catastrophe, such as bushfire,” said Mr Ferguson. “The intention of breeding them here at the Perth zoo is to build the numbers up, and to provide a bank of the birds to hopefully re-establish some of those habitats once some of those threats are under control.“ The same information confirmed the WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob.

On the two last localities where the Western Ground Parrot still occurs, anti-fire sensors are placed as well as baits for wild cats. “Once threats have been addressed – and if the bids are able to be successfully bred at the zoo – we hope they can be released back into national parks,” declared the Minister Jacob for The Esperance Express. The project funded by WA government is also supported by volunteer group Friends of the Western Ground parrot – last time it was 15 000 dollars. “It is pleasing to see such co-operative arrangements between government and the community to achieve positive conservation outcomes,” said Jacob.

 Title photo: © Jarrod Amoore This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


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