Thursday, August 26, 2004

Changing Parents

Two baby cockatoos who were left to fend for themselves are being hand-raised at Cleethorpes zoo The Jungle.

As previously reported, Poppet the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo fled the nest leaving his partner to look after their eggs. As Poppet shirked his parental responsibilities and winged his way to freedom, a massive search was launched.

He was eventually tracked down and caught at Humberston Fitties.

One week after the two lovebirds were reunited, the eggs hatched and the owners of the Jungle, Al and Bet Verlaine, hoped it would be a case of happy families.

But the parents rejected their offspring.

Mr Verlaine said: "Parrots can reject their babies if something traumatic has happened.

"I think the trauma of Poppet flying away probably led the couple to reject the babies.

"Bet has been the mum to them really. I have been helping out.

"At first, they needed feeding every two hours, but now they can manage with a feed about every four hours.

"They are both advancing really well. We are delighted with their progress.

"It is always nice when there are babies around. It is lovely to have new life, but it does mean we miss out on some sleep.

"The lesser sulphur-crested cockatoos are very friendly birds. They are not as noisy as some other parrots."

The month-old babies have been eating a special baby parrot mix. They live in a cage, in a back room in the zoo, with a blanket over the top to reassure them they are being protected from predators.

Mrs Verlaine said people could see them at various times of the day if it fitted in with the baby cockatoos' routine but they were not on view all the time.

The birds, which are native to Australia, are now starting to develop the distinctive sulphur crest.

Mrs Verlaine said: "It is like having your own children. At first, all they were interested in was food, but they are now beginning to take more interest in what is going on around them.

"In a few weeks' time, they will be flying around.

"We are not sure of their gender yet, it is not really possible to tell until they are adults.

"The parents, Poppet and Baby, are both doing very well."

What would you call the babies.

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