If you were to chat to our bird keepers about breeding and caring for Regent Honeyeaters, there’s one character they often refer to, which has, shall we say, earned a reputation over the years.
‘K’ is a 16 year old male Regent Honeyeater that arrived at Taronga Zoo in 1995. The male had been selected as part of the original group of birds brought to the Zoo in their first weeks of life to begin an insurance population to ensure the endangered species survived for many years to come.
‘K’ started out like any other chick and grew into a healthy young adult, which keepers were keen to introduce a female mate so that these extremely valuable genetics would be passed on. Little did they know that ‘K’ would strongly resist breeding and associating at all with any other Regent Honeyeater for the next 15 years!
K has always been known as a bit of a crank and loner, preferring a solitary existence to other birds which is unusual for Regents’ kind.
With careful consideration keepers recently decided on one last chance at breeding with K, so the bird was moved to our largest walk-through exhibit, the Platypus Pools, where there was plenty of space to fly around with all our Regent Honeyeater females. Whether it was the change of scenery or the fact there was lots of females, K has finally sired two offspring at the ripe old age of 16 (unheard of in Zoo’s history)!
We can no longer refer to K as the cranky old bachelor and the best part is we now have a whole new line of genetics contributing to the next generation of Regent Honeyeaters that may return to the wild. There’s a lot to be said for last chances.