The Explorikeet experience offers a unique opportunity for guests to feed and serve as human perches for our flock of colorful lorikeets.
But where did all our beautiful birds come from? Some were hatched here at the zoo and some came from other zoos. Our breeder pair has a cozy space and nest box for privacy and comfort, which helps them care for their eggs and chicks. When the babies are a few weeks old, we transfer them to incubators and hand raise them so we can monitor their health and people- friendly behaviors.
When the baby lorikeets begin eating independently and flying well, we move them to the indoor holding area of the lorikeet exhibit adjacent to the flock where they can see, hear and interact with them. Every day when the adult flock goes outside, the keepers train the babies to shift or move back and forth from one holding to another. We also train them to perch on a scale so we can monitor their weight and health. In addition, we slowly acclimate them to the big viewing window in the holding room to help them avoid flying injuries.
The next step is to introduce them to the adult lorikeets. We start with small groups of 5 to 10 birds with a keeper present. Then, they are introduced to the whole flock in the outside exhibit. The baby lorikeets are extremely friendly and curious as they explore their new home. All of the lorikeets wear a leg band with a unique identifying number.
During the hand-raising process, the keepers and Guest Experience staff have enjoyed naming most of the birds. I have also enjoyed hand raising and introducing several groups of babies over the past 13 years. It is a very unique and rewarding experience.
– Erica McCoy, animal caretaker
Cover Photo: Lori Carpenter