Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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At the Taronga Zoo Free Flight Bird Show, we not only give our visitors an insight into the amazing life of birds, but our birds also help contribute towards conservation of species in the wild.

At the end of our show we have three parrots, including Elliott, our 50 year old Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, who excitedly sits on a specially designed box and accepts donations from visitors after the show. Showing amazing dexterity, the birds collect coins and notes with their beaks from eager visitors and place them in the money box. All the funds raised go towards conservation projects which Taronga supports.

Collecting the money was something that we had to train the parrots to do and they receive a seed reward between each donation to thank them for the great work they are doing. The project commenced in 2007, and to date the parrots have raised over $99,000 for conservation!

We get numerous enquires each year from people who need to re-house parrots due to unforeseen situations just like Elliott’s. He arrived in 1985 after his beloved owner passed away, and as luck would have it there was a space here at Taronga Zoo for him to spend the rest of his life. Not only can parrots live to be over 100 years old, but they are also challenging to live with. One of the most common problems pet owner’s face is their loud voice. Parrots scream in the morning, in the afternoon and at all other times, and this is a natural behaviour in the wild! They can also learn to bite very hard and partake in undesirable behaviors like feather plucking when they get bored. Keeping parrots as pets can be very time consuming as they are exceptionally intelligent animals that need a lot of mental stimulation. Luckily Elliott has seven zoo keepers to look after him and I am privileged to be one of his keepers.

Elliott makes an appearance daily at our 12pm and 3pm Free Flight Bird Show.

Bird Show Keeper and Elliott’s trainer 

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