Parrot Society of New Zealand

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NZ’s kakapo old boy found dead.

New Zealand’s legendary kakapo ‘Richard Henry’, considered the elder statesman of the country’s rare native species and one who played a vital role in kakapo recovery, has been found dead. The rare flightless parrot was believed to be more than 80 years old, and is thought to have died of natural causes.
Richard Henry was named after a Victorian conservationist who pioneered work with kakapo recovery and set up a bird protection
scheme on Resolution Island in Fiordland National Park, in the South Island, more than 100 years ago. Richard Henry the
kakapo was originally discovered in Fiordland in 1975 when kakapo were believed to be extinct. When a group of other birds
were later found on Stewart Island, Richard Henry played a vital role by offering genetic diversity to the breeding programme,
which now numbers 121 birds.
Richard Henry’s death marked the end of an era in kakapo conservation. Richard Henry had not bred since 1999, and had been showing signs of age including blindness in one eye, slow moving and wrinkles. A sample of his DNA has been preserved.
The kakapo breeding season is well under way  on both Codfish and Anchor islands off New Zealand's southern South Island.
If chicks are hatched on Anchor Island, they could well be the first kakapo chicks in Fiordland since Richard Henry himself was a chick. It’s sad to lose Richard Henry but the main thing is that the kakapo population is growing and includes Richard Henry’s genetic legacy of three adult offspring. It is hoped that the first eggs of the season will start to appear in February.

Source: New Zealand Tourism Press release 14 January 2011