New Zealand Parrot Back From the Brink of Extinction Despite Being Incredibly Bad at Mating (Video)

Mating fail.

Conservation efforts are paying off to save the kakapo parrot of New Zealand, despite the fact that it is flightless, slow, and really bad at mating. In fact, male kakapos are sometimes more likely to try to mate with people’s heads, given the opportunity. I’m not a zoologist, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you make baby kakapos.

Once one of the most common birds in New Zealand, the kakapo population dwindled to only 50 in 1990. The population is now at 126, reports Yahoo! News.

“There was a report from an early explorer, Charles Douglas, who said they were so populous you could shake them out of trees like apples,” said Deirdre Vercoe Scott, head of the Department of Conservation’s kakapo recovery program.

“He said he’d once seen six kakapo shaken from a single tutu bush.”

No explanation is given why anyone would shake birds out of bushes. That’s like some kind of really weird Dora the Explorer episode right there.

One of the problems zoologists have had in increasing the birds’ population is that the birds “imprint” upon human handlers. Apparently “imprinting” is code for “humping people’s heads.”

Not disturbing at all: this display from the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand shows a volunteer wearing a Kakapo Ejaculation Helmet.

The head-humping was so common that at one point, conservationists developed special dimpled hats in an attempt to collect kakapo sperm. So, I guess props to the conservationists for being that dedicated to the cause. Also: eeeeeewwwww.  And: nice hat. Sadly, the kakapos didn’t enjoy humping the hats. Conservation efforts now focus on both artificial insemination and creating new habitats for the kakapos.

Besides not being able to differentiate between a human head and a female kakapo, the kakapos only breed when fruit is plentiful. So although they can live to be 90 years old, they’re only actively breeding a fraction of the time.  Also, when they are breeding, the male kakapo makes a loud “booming” sound which can be heard from far away. This sound attracts both female kakapos and hungry predators. To make matters worse, the flightless birds, which are about the size of a chicken, freeze when threatened, which is a pretty crappy defense mechanism.

A couple years ago actor Stephen Fry was part of a BBC project that filmed endangered animals, in which he witnessed a kakapo attempting to “vigorously couple” with a zoologist’s head. The video, below, is awesome not just for Mr. Fry’s dry humor but also as proof that despite having approximately two television channels, the Brits have way better TV than us.


(via: Yahoo! News)

(Photo Credits: Mating fail, BBC 2. Kakapo Ejaculation Helmet, Te Papa Museum via The Optimus Prime Experiment.)

Read more from Joslyn at Strollerderby.

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