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NZ's frisky spokesbird Sirocco returns

Nicole Goebel
February 8, 2018

Sirocco, New Zealand's superstar kakapo parrot, is alive and well in New Zealand's Fiordland. The conservation 'spokesbird' shot to fame after he got a bit too friendly with a zoologist filming for a documentary.

Sirocco, the kakapo
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Department of Conservation New Zealand/R. Cole

The near 21-year-old kakapo, a vulnerable species of parrot native to New Zealand, appeared unharmed and unfazed after his two-year hiatus from the public eye, according to a news release and tweet by the country's Department of Conservation.

A second tweet confirms that cheeky Sirocco is "up to his old tricks already."

Sirocco — New Zealand's infamous spokesbird for conservation — had been sorely missed by rangers in New Zealand's Fiordland wilderness, who nevertheless suspected he was still alive, after his transmitter failed but did not send a mortality signal.

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"While we've been out to search for him a few times, we were confident he'd be perfectly happy out there in the wild in his predator-free home," Kakapo Operations Manager Deidre Vercoe said, according to the statement.

Sirocco the famous lovebird

In 2009, the frisky parrot captured hearts across the globe after getting, shall we say, very friendly with a crew member for the BBC documentary series Last Chance to See.

Sirocco took a shine to zoologist Mark Carwardine, landed on his head and began frantically flapping his wings, making thrusting movements. Presenter Stephen Fry, leaving his colleague to fend off the Sirocco's advances, then said: "Sorry, but this is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. You are being shagged by a rare parrot."

Sirocco's mating attempts obviously made a lasting impression, leading officials to name him spokesbird for conservation. Sirocco has since made several public appearances, traveling in a customized box. Naturally, he has his own Facebook and Twitter pages.

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"We know people will be keen to see him return to public life, however, like a true superstar, any future plans will be on his terms," conservationist Vercoe said.

Sirocco has been around humans since he was a chick, after needing extensive treatment for a respiratory illness. Kakapos are known to be affectionate and playful.

Kakapos, who are unable to fly, but can inflate themselves with air to become the size of a football, are one of New Zealand's most vulnerable birds, with only 150 birds surviving on the country's remote islands.