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October 2009


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NZ parrot playboy now world famous

07 Oct 2009

New Zealand has a new international celebrity - parrot pin-up boy, Sirocco the kakapo, has shot to stardom after his unusual mating attempt with a zoologist aired on BBC television.

Now the clip has been spread world wide with more than half a million hits on YouTube and social network sites buzzing with comments from amused observers.

As well as dubbing the footage "award-winning", "the best thing on television" and "quite simply hilarious", tweets have suggested Sirocco - one of 124 surviving kakapo or large flightless parrots endemic to New Zealand - deserves his own TV show.

Last Chance to See
The incident came about during filming a New Zealand episode of the BBC’s Last Chance to See programme with Stephen Fry.

A feature on kakapo, the world’s largest parrot and listed among the rarest and most at-risk bird species on earth, turned into television history when Sirocco suddenly jumped on zoologist Mark Carwardine and began to mate with his head.

While 12-year-old Sirocco had a big smile on his face, a bemused Carwardine cowered in disbelief and after much wing flapping and clawing, the zoologist was left nursing a chaffed and scratched head and neck.

The whole episode was captured on film and, while Fry spread the word on Twitter at the time, it wasn’t until the BBC aired Last Chance to See this week that the public got to see the unusual ritual first hand.

YouTube & Twitter
Since then, the clip has been the most viewed video on the BBC website and has had more than 580,000 views on YouTube. Clicks to the video from Twitter have numbered around 15,000 from 113 individual tweets, and Sirocco has also cracked the United States, appearing on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, Moment of Geek.

UK newspaper The Independent on Saturday also featured a four-page cover story by travel editor Ben Ross following in the footsteps of Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine during their kakapo discovery tour.

‘Kakapo’ is continuing to trend highly as a subject on Twitter and Sirocco, already considered the darling of New Zealand’s high profile conservation efforts with the endangered kakapo parrot population, is receiving new friend requests on Facebook, by the hour. The first night after screening of the Last Chance to See, he received 700 new friend requests on Facebook.

Parrot playboy’s next move
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation and members of the kakapo recovery programme are now deciding the next move for the now internationally renowned parrot.

Sirocco is the face of the kakapo recovery programme and is described as an extraordinary and charismatic bird who has a strong affinity with humans.

A respiratory illness suffered early in life meant that Sirocco had to be hand reared by the kakapo recovery team. Sirocco became imprinted on humans and due to this now plays an important advocate role for the species.

The recovery programme made headlines around the world this year due to a spectacular breeding season which increased the precarious population from below 100 to 124.

More information:

Kakapo breeding season ends on record high

Kakapo chicks make safe return

Bird conservation in New Zealand

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Related Links
Other Sites
•  Sirocco on YouTube
•  Sirocco on Twitter
•  Department of Conservation
•  Kakapo Recovery Programme website
•  Sirocco's Facebook page


Earlybird special offers rare kakapo encounter - click for more.
Sirocco - rare kakapo parrot

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