Two Eclectus parrots arrived at the Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo on Tuesday — a green male named Jazz and a red female named Ruby. The birds were a gift from Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas.
Zoo Curator Marge Bowen said Jazz was used for education at the Waco Zoo, so he had lots of handling and was used to human interaction. Parrots can mimic a number of sounds and can develop a "human" vocabulary. So far the zoo staff have heard him say, "hello," "what are you doing?" and "pretty bird."
"We’re hoping to use both of them for education, but the female’s never been handled before," Bowen said. Both birds will spend a month in quarantine before coming out for public viewing.
On Wednesday, Jackie Corbett, veterinarian to the zoo, gave both birds a physical.
Bowen said the Eclectus parrot is a native of New Guinea and usually lives 30-40 years. Females are often larger than males and are the dominant and more aggressive bird. They have bright red feathers, a blue midsection and a black beak. The males are green with some red under the wings and a bright yellow or orange beak.
In the wild they eat figs and other fruit, and an occasional insect. At the zoo they’ll be fed fruit and vegetables, as well as food pellets.
Zoo Director Scott Gregory said Great Bend’s efforts to become accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has paid off once again, as the parrots were donated by an AZA zoo.
"We hope to send off our AZA application in March," Gregory said. The zoo has already undergone a mock inspection by other Kansas zoos as it works toward that goal.