Coming from the mountains of New Zealand, the Kea (Nestor notabilis) are one of the most interesting and most intelligent parrots in the world. Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, these birds have historically been persecuted for their intelligence and curiosity, especially by New Zealand sheep farmers. One look at this video and you can see why:
Luckily for us, Kea are actually omnivores. And luckily for the Kea they are protected, and interactions with hunters has declined since the bird became protected in 1986. Estimates for their total numbers now range between 1,000 to 5,000 in their natural habitat.
When it comes to finding Kea here in the United States, the Cincinnati area has it made. Most zoos, if they have them, only have a few, and sometimes not even on display. However, the Cincinnati Zoo has one of the largest colonies of Kea outside of New Zealand, which are on display during the colder months of the year in their Lorikeet Landing. Just this past year, a Kea Encounter was added, so zoo guests can interact with the colony and see firsthand how intelligent and amazing these parrots really are.
Another great interaction with Kea is happening everyday, this month during Zoo Babies. Every day at 11 AM, you can meet one of these guys inside the Wings of the World building:
Be sure to check these amazing birds out for Zoo Babies, and also be sure to check them out once the weather turns colder in Lorikeet Landing for the Kea Encounter. Definitely one of the most amazing birds that I have ever worked with!