Sausage-gobbling kookaburra grows too fat to fly

June 9, 2010

A kookaburra that grew fat on flame-grilled favourites has been placed on a diet by staff at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, Reuters reports.

Visitors to a park in Sydney fed the Australian bird sausages as they enjoyed barbecues in the New South Wales city. Eventually, the snag-scoffing bird grew to a mighty 565 grams (1.2 lb), rendering it too fat to fly.

A concerned resident spotted the kookaburra being chased around the grounds by dogs, bagged the bird, and took it to the Zoo for rehabilitation.

“The kookaburra’s been down at the rehabilitation aviary for a couple of weeks on a special ‘lite n’easy’ diet designed by our bird keeper,” Gemma Watkinson, Taronga Zoo wildlife hospital nurse, told Reuters.

“Out in the wild she’d eat a whole small animal such as a mouse or skink, but butcher’s sausages are just too much of a good thing.”

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Winston the carrier pigeon bests SA’s Telkom

September 10, 2009

It is quicker to send data by carrier pigeon than use South Africa’s largest ISP, Reuters reports.

Winston, an 11-month old carrier pigeon, lugged a data card from the offices of Unlimited IT in Pietermaritzburg to Durban in one hour and eight minutes. Staff spent a further hour fumbling with the medium before the transfer was complete. In the meantime, a download over the backhaul of Telkom was a paltry 4% complete.

Without a hint of irony, Reuters reports that Telkom “could not immediately be reached for comment”.


Escaped flamingo eyeballed on Texas coast

August 18, 2009

A flamingo that fled the clutches of Sedgwick County Zoo, KA, has been photographed sojourning on the Gulf Coast, the Wichita Eagle reports.

The bird, one of a pair that escaped the zoo in June 2005, has been spotted a number of times since he slipped his captors. The other, blown northward by a storm, has proven more elusive, having been spotted only once, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in 2008.

“It’s good to know that [the more southerly flamingo] is still doing well,” said Christan Baumer, spokeswoman for Sedgwick County Zoo.

The flamingoes were due a wing-clipping to prevent just such an escape, but their primaries proved too short for the procedure. Days before they were destined for the veterinarian’s knife, strong winds helped them aloft, and thence to freedom.


NZ parrot steals passport

May 29, 2009

A British holidaymaker had his passport stolen by a kea, stuff.co.nz reports.

The Briton was awaiting delivery of his passport in Milford Sound, in Fiordland National Park, when the bird struck. A bus driver was retrieving luggage from a storage locker when the kea snuck in and pinched a brightly-coloured courier bag. The driver was unable to stop the feathered highwayman, who immediately flew off into the surrounding trees.

The Scotsman, who did not want to be identified (and now, of course, cannot), said: “My passport is somewhere out there in Fiordland. The kea’s probably using it for fraudulent claims or something. I’ll never look at a kea in the same way.”

Kea's new passport

A second replacement passport could take up to six weeks to reach South Island, giving the kea ample opportunity to travel in the meantime.

Apologies to readers who have been searching for British passports, only to be rewarded with an image of our avian chum above. Happy trails!


Penguin drowns in bucket during escape attempt

March 25, 2009

Auckland is a couple of penguins short of a zoo after a series of mysterious deaths, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Four of the zoo’s six-strong colony of Little (Blue) penguins have died of a “mysterious ailment.” Symptoms included an unusually oily coat, which can (somewhat counterintuitively) lead to waterlogging and subsequent hypothermia. The convalescent sphenisciformes were hand-fed and washed daily to encourage a return to a maritime existence, but, despite the efforts of their keepers, all passed beyond the veil.

A fifth penguin staged a daring escape from an emergency enclosure, but went straight to Davy Jones’ Locker, having fallen headlong into a bucket of water.

“It was just one of those things you wouldn’t think about in advance – a penguin drowning,” said the zoo’s veterinarian John Potter.

Auckland Zoo hopes to restock with rescue penguins whose injuries compromise their ability to feed in the wild.