Meet the kakapo, a unique parrot from New Zealand. What makes them so unique? So many things! For starters they’re the only nocturnal parrots. But probably more importantly, the kakapo, like Kevin Smith, is too fat to fly! It’s presumed that the husky birds evolved to occupy an ecosystem normally occupied by mammals and thus took on dietary habits typical of animals who don’t require a slim figure for flight.
The kakapo is the heaviest parrot in the world with males weighing from 5 to 9 lbs and, oddly, females weighing from around 3 to 5 lbs. The males are so much bigger that the number of males born in a clutch (that’s what a “litter” of bird eggs is called) is directly related to how much food the mother kakapo eats while pregnant–she needs to eat a lot of protein in order to have those giant male babies! They also have a “lek” (meaning “to play”) mating system where the males gather in one place and play competitive games (sparring, dancing, king of the hill) to try to impress the tiny female, sort of like The Bachelor but with chubby parrots. So basically I guess it’s like The Fatchelor with parrots.
We’re gonna let the kakapos have a “lek” on our site, so that you can decide if they deserve your a rose!
See the twig in his mouth? Kakapo are such little pigs that they’ll even eat tree branches. They’re herbivores and they’ll eat just about anything that isn’t meat, kind of like my fat vegan friend.
In this shot of a kakapo (eating, of course) you can see the his whiskers! Since they are essentially land animals, they have whiskers around the face and use them to sense the ground in the dark, similar to a lot of nocturnal mammals. And, in case it wasn’t obvious, their pretty green and brown feathers help camouflage them in the twigs and leaves that they love to nom.
If you’re anything like me, you probably want a kakapo as a pet by now. Well, meet Sirocco! He’s a kakapo that was raised in at the Kakapo Recovery Center in Codfish Island, New Zealand. He was born with an illness and had to be cared for by humans until he got well–but in the process he “imprinted” himself on humans, and now he thinks he’s a person! He prefers the company of humans over kakapos and is very friendly with strangers. He’s the only kakapo in the world like this!
And how can we know that for sure? Because there are very few kakapo left in the world, unfortunately. Sirocco is one of only 122 on the planet. The Kakapo Recovery Center where he lives was once visited by Douglas Adams (yes, that Douglas Adams, you can hear him talk about it here) in a BBC radio series called “Last Chance to See” which was recently revisited in 2006 as a television series where the new host, Stephen Fry, can be seen playing with Sirocco:
Can’t see the video in your reader? Watch it here.
When Douglas Adams visited Codfish Island in 1989, there were only 40 kakapo in existence. When Stephen Fry isited in 2006, there were 90. As of today, there are 122.
Kakapo are rare and adorable animals that were doing just fine on their island home until settlers came and messed up their ecosystem–they took a serious hit from imported domestic cats, poor chubby birds didn’t stand a chance. But now humans are trying to make it right again! The Kakapo Recovery center is doing all it can to restore the kakapo population! You can follow their efforts on Twitter and friend Sirocco on Facebook. Or, if you really want to make a difference, you can donate to the Kakapo Recovery Center.
Any Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan would know how important (and convenient!) biodiversity is. Even if you can’t spare to help the kakapo out, it’s at least nice to be occasionally reminded we live in a mysterious world full of precious, fragile, and fat little things like the kakapo.