Kaka couple tentative about freedom

Two long-term captive kaka have taken their first halting steps into the wild at Orokonui Ecosanctuary but are not quite ready to leave their aviary.

The kaka, known as Mr and Mrs Roto, have been the main breeding pair and "call birds" at the ecosanctuary aviary since being transferred there from the Dunedin Botanic Garden in 2008.

Mr Roto (aged about 17) had been in captivity, mainly at the garden, since he was a fledgling.

Mrs Roto ended up at the garden in 1984 after being discovered in ill health in a pigeon loft at Maori Hill.

Orokonui conservation manager Elton Smith said in preparation for their release into the ecosanctuary, which was surrounded by a predator-proof fence, the kaka had been learning to operate the feeding hoppers that would be their food source in the ecosanctuary.

While in the aviary their diet included food they would get in the wild.

Since their aviary was opened yesterday morning, the pair had been tentative about leaving, darting back and forth between the aviary and the open platform on which rotting logs and grubs had been placed to entice them out.

When the Rotos leave, only Cleopatra, an injured female from Eglinton Valley, will remain at the Orokonui aviary.


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