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Parrots return to Werribee Open Range Zoo

11 April 2018

Twelve Orange-bellied Parrots have arrived safely at Werribee Open Range Zoo after they were given a helping hand to migrate from Tasmania.

The birds were given a thorough examination at Werribee Open Range Zoo, with vets giving the birds a clean bill of health.

The Orange-bellied Parrot is one of the only migratory parrot species in the world, every year making the treacherous roundtrip from Tasmania across the Bass Strait to south-eastern Australia.

These new arrivals are part of an innovative ‘ranching’ trial that will see the birds spend the winter safely housed at Werribee Open Range Zoo before being returned to Tasmania in late spring.

The trial, based at Werribee Open Range Zoo and Moonlit Sanctuary, involves collecting Orange-bellied Parrots from Tasmania at the end of the breeding season, assisting them to migrate over Bass Strait and keeping them safe through the winter in order to successfully return them to Tasmania for the summer breeding season.

Currently 31 Orange-bellied Parrots reside at Werribee Open Range Zoo, with more of the Critically Endangered birds calling the zoo home than are estimated to be in the wild.

With fewer than 30 Orange-bellied Parrots remaining in the wild, there are a lot of challenges involved in the recovery of the species. With such a small population left, the birds’ survival depends on innovation and collaboration with partners and with community to save this iconic local species. In particular, Zoos Victoria works in partnership with the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team.