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Orange-bellied Parrot chicks bring new hope at Healesville Sanctuary

20 December 2018

Critically Endangered Orange-bellied Parrot chicks have hatched at Healesville Sanctuary – the first for the 2018/19 breeding season. With the situation in the wild for these unique birds so dire, a robust captive population is essential to the ongoing survival of this species.

A total of 19 breeding pairs have been established at Healesville Sanctuary’s breeding facility this year, with the pairs given additional time together this season to bond. Orange-bellied Parrot pairs remain monogamous throughout the breeding season and generally only produce a single clutch per season.

“These chicks play a big role in the future of their species, as there are fewer than 60 birds left in the wild,” said Healesville Sanctuary Threatened Bird Keeper Veronica Peric. “Each new bird will go on to either contribute to the captive insurance population or be released to the wild to help bolster the wild population.”

The Orange-bellied Parrot was previously widespread and abundant in Australia, however the breeding population is today restricted to a narrow coastal strip of southwest Tasmania.

One of only two migratory parrot species in the world, Orange-bellied Parrots migrate annually from Tasmania to south-eastern Australia for the winter.

Zoos Victoria joined the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Program in 1995 working together with a number of organisations, government departments and scientists to bring these birds back from the brink of extinction.

“Visitors to Healesville Sanctuary are incredibly lucky to be able to see these rare and unique birds for themselves in our Fighting Extinction aviary”, Ms Peric said.

Each visit to Healesville Sanctuary directly contributes to the recovery of local endangered species like the Orange-bellied Parrot.