You may remember ‘Big’ and ‘Bounce’ from their earlier blog; they might look like giant marshmallows, but these two Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos are being trained for free-flight at the Bird Show. First steps included forming a relationship with the duo, teaching them manners and getting them used to entering and travelling in animal transport packs. Now, with all that under their belts, they’ve started to fly, higher and higher.
Free-flying is always a lot of fun! Anything can happen, and sometimes does. The team started having ‘Big’ and ‘Bounce’ flying only short distances, hand to hand, between them. Only a couple of feet and then we gradually increase the distance. Every time they successfully make the flight we give them a small food reward to say “thanks!”
These marshmallows have become extremely competent though, flying in stronger and stronger winds, and as of today, they have even started doing flights ascending and descending from elevated places. This is really important because we want ‘Big’ and ‘Bounce’ to feel comfortable in any situation and don’t want them to be stuck in a tree, because they didn’t learn a safe way to fly down. It may sound silly, but this would happen with their parents in the wild, and so we give them the same opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them, just as their parents would.
Check out the video attached! It shows ‘Bounce’ doing one of his first ever descents. You can even see his tail wagging a little, from side to side as he loses height. His tail is what helps him to steer.
By Keeper, Brendan
Taronga Zoo, Media Relations
(02) 9978 4606
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Media Relations
(02) 6881 1400
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