The Search for a Parrot Star
A popular social media star is on the missing list. It is nothing new when a celebrity decides to seek respite from the limelight. But the star in question is a rare parrot and he has now dropped off the radar.
Sirocco is a kākāpō, an extremely rare species of flightless parrot. Kākāpōs used to be a common sight in New Zealand but the introduction of predatory non-native species like stoats and rats changed all that. The unusual parrots were easy pickings and by 1995 there were only 51 birds still alive in the wild. A recovery programme has proved successful. There are now 154 kākāpōs but that is a very small and vulnerable population. Sirocco is a very important bird!
Sirocco suffered a difficult start in life. He was a sickly youngster who had to be reared by humans. His life was saved but he became rather too fond of people. When released back into the wild he shunned female kākāpō company but became a star when he was attracted to a television reporter instead!
Making Love Live on Air
When zoologist Mark Carwardine was making a 2009 BBC wildlife documentary, Sirocco attempted to mate with him live on camera! Carwardine’s co-host, who was one other than Stephen Fry, commented, "You are being shagged by a rare parrot. When you have the chick, I want you to call it Stephen." In addition to being TV gold, the footage has since attracted over 7 million views on YouTube!
Sirocco was to become a mascot for wildlife conservation in New Zealand. He was sent to live on a remote and predator-free island. He has been fitted with a tracking device. This is used to monitor his whereabouts and to enable conservationists to capture him in order to carry out health checks. Sirocco’s time in the wild is punctuated by occasional trips off the island to make personal appearances. He has even visited the New Zealand parliament when performing his PR duties. Unfortunately, Sirocco has now gone missing.
On the Missing List
Sirocco’s tracking device is not emitting a signal but nobody knows whether this is because the device has failed or because Sirocco has met his demise. Conservationists believe that he is probably fine as he is a comparatively young bird and lives in a safe environment.
Perhaps Sirocco has simply decided to step out of the spotlight for a while. It is hoped that he can be tracked down so that he can continue his PR work promoting conservation in the antipodes. A spectacular comeback could be on the cards but so far Sirocco has evaded all attempts to find him!