While under lockdown our vital conservation work continues!

Bird keepers Erin, Debs and team leader Carl carefully transported these kākāriki karaka (orange-fronted parakeet) to Auckland Airport this week so they could catch their Air New Zealand flight to Christchurch, and then on to the wild!

These 10 precious fledglings, all ranging between 4-6 months of age, were hatched and raised at Auckland Zoo, as part of a breed-for-release programme with our conservation partners the Department of Conservation and Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust. They’ll be spending a short stint at Isaacs who will help to prepare them for their release into the wild later this year.

Scheduled to fly in late summer, Covid-19 delayed their initial travel, but in the past week Anne from Isaacs, with help from DOC, was able to arrange these flights. Ordinarily these birds would have flown down in the cargo hold – like your dog or cat – but due to these special circumstances they were given their own seats – complete with tickets!

kākāriki karaka are New Zealand’s smallest and rarest parakeet species, and like their better-known cousins the kākāpō, they’re critically endangered. Current estimates suggest that just 100-300 birds remain in the wild, and like many of Aotearoa’s endemic species, they are vulnerable to predation from introduced mammalian pests like rats and stoats.

The kākāriki karaka needs the help of conservation-focused organisations like ours – with critical skills in handling and caring for rare birds – to bring them back from the brink. That’s why with the help of you, and our conservation partners, we’re working to increase the numbers of this taonga species.

If you’d like to support us to do more Wild Work like this, you can learn more here.