Date: 23 March 2018
After a rough start to life 21 years ago with a respiratory illness that led him to imprint on humans as a chick, Sirocco is now world-famous, with an international fanbase, huge online following and celebrity interviews. He's a national treasure.
“As we would for a much-loved family member, we are celebrating Sirocco’s 21st hatchday by sharing our favourite moments, photos and videos of him and encouraging his fans to join in and wish him a happy hatchday,” says kākāpō operations manager Deidre Vercoe.
“While there are just 149 birds left, the future is looking brighter for kākāpō, with an upcoming bumper breeding season predicted based on rimu fruit counts,” says Ms Vercoe
While DOC and Sirocco fans may be celebrating, the guest of honour will be having what is presumed to be a quiet birthday. Earlier this year Sirocco came out of hiding after two years “off the grid” due to a failed transmitter. He's spending his hatchday in the safety of his predator-free Fiordland island.
Sirocco was named New Zealand’s spokesbird for conservation after he shot to fame following an encounter with zoologist Mark Carwardine, who was filming BBC documentary Last Chance To See with British actor Stephen Fry.
Since then, he’s been a famous advocate for kākāpō conservation, making occasional appearances at sites such as predator-free sanctuaries around New Zealand.
With the 149 kākāpō in existence living on remote islands, opportunities to see kākāpō are very limited. Sirocco’s ease around people presents a unique opportunity for the public to get to see one of these incredible birds. His cheeky nature has made a big impact on those who meet him, and his story has helped introduce the world to kākāpō.
Wish Sirocco a happy birthday
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There are 149 kākāpō. Most of the birds live on two predator-free islands – Codfish Island/Whenua Hou near Stewart Island and Anchor Island in Fiordland.
Kākāpō are a national treasure that is native to New Zealand and a taonga species to Ngāi Tahu, which is the principal Māori iwi (tribe) of the southern region of New Zealand.
Kākāpō are breeding successfully, with support from the Kākāpō Recovery Team, on Whenua Hou and Anchor island.
A record 32 kākāpō chicks were fledged on Whenua Hou and Anchor Island in 2016. This was the most successful breeding season in the 25-year history of Kākāpō Recovery.
This bumper breeding season allowed the programme to move six kākāpō birds to predator-free Hauturu.
Kākāpō Recovery goal
The long-term goal of the Kākāpō Recovery programme is to have 150 female kākāpō at three separate predator-free sites. Each predator-free site will have at least 50 breeding age females. The populations at two sites will receive support from the Kākāpō Recovery Team. The kākāpō at the third site will be able to hatch and raise chicks without human support.
Meridian Energy partnership
Meridian Energy has been the National Partner of the Kākāpō Recovery Programme since June 2016. Meridian contributes to the growth of the kākāpō population by helping DOC fund research and pioneer conservation techniques relating to genetics, nutrition, disease management. They also help DOC find new sites for kākāpō to live and breed and raise awareness of the need to support kākāpō. Meridian works closely with Ngāi Tahu in this partnership.
For more information on the partnership visit the Meridian Energy website.
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