Spectacular Birds Explore Melbourne Zoo's Unique Flight Paths

30 June 2022

Melbourne Zoo’s two spectacular macaws are turning heads and bringing a splash of colour to its iconic Main Drive.

The Blue-and-gold Macaws, Goldie and Pablo, are cleverly learning different free-fly routes throughout the Zoo as part of their daily exercise and enrichment training.  

Melbourne Zoo Macaw keeper Aaron Tolley said learning different flight paths is important for the birds’ physical health and provides them with valuable mental exercise as well.  

“Learning new routes is really important for the macaws,” Mr Tolley said. “They are incredibly smart birds, so this training provides them with fantastic mental and physical opportunities. They are doing something different every day.”  

Due to their intelligence, the Macaws are able to understand sophisticated signals from their keepers, who direct them to fly to specific targets placed throughout the Zoo grounds.    

“In order to get the macaws to fly a specific route, it takes a lot of training with the keepers,” Mr Tolley said. “We’ve trained Goldie, for example, to understand that when she’s standing on the fence, she needs to fly up to the balcony. And when she’s on her keeper’s hand on the balcony, she knows to listen out for her call and fly back to her aviary.”  

Despite looking similar in appearance, Mr Tolley said Goldie and Pablo couldn’t be more distinct in personality.  

“Goldie is 25 years old and is a very relaxed old bird. She’s very friendly with all the staff,” Mr Tolley said. 

“Pablo’s only five, so he’s very young, very energetic, and you can really see that shining through in his personality when he flies outside.”  

Blue-and-gold macaws are native to the forests of South and Central America, where they play an important role dispersing seed as they fly, although deforestation is reducing the species’ habitat range.