Meet Scarlet, the Denver Zoo's first kea chick

DENVER -- Denver Zoo officials are celebrating their first-ever hatching of a kea, a large, vulnerable species of parrot.

Named Scarlet, the chick hatched on February 8 and has been hand-reared by zookeepers since then at the Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center.

"Scarlet’s arrival is special as she increases the North American zoo population to only 38 keas, 14 of which are female,” zoo officials said.

Only 11 institutions in North America house the species and they can be very difficult to breed, but Denver Zoo zookeepers worked tirelessly and after though research, they were able to encourage Scarlet’s mother, Anna, to breed with her mate, Sorento, resulting in four eggs.

The plan was to let the birds incubate the eggs and rear the chicks themselves, but officials said the parents broke two of the eggs, forcing zookeepers to pull the remaining two and incubate them artificially.

“Of those, only on chick hatched,” zookeepers said. Since then, they have hand-raised the chick but will eventually place her with her parents once she is old enough.

This is the first chick for both Anna and Sorento, according got zoo officials.

Anna hatched at the Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle, Washington, in March 2006, and arrived from there in August 2008. Sorento hatched at the San Diego Zoo in December 2004 and came to Denver Zoo from the Philadelphia Zoo in October 2010.

Keas are one of the few alpine species of parrot in the world and are found mostly in the mountains of the South Island of New Zealand. Adults can grow to about 19 inches long, and can weigh about 2 pounds. Their feathers are mostly olive-green, save for the bright, reddish-orange coloring under their wings.

GALLERY: Meet Scarlet, the new kea chick at the Denver Zoo

Keas were named by the Māori people for the sound of one of the birds’ vocalizations, which sounds like “kee-yah,” according to Denver Zoo officials. 


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