Meet Our New Media Fellows

If the world’s only flightless parrot could read, it might hop for joy at the results of a recent study conducted in part by William & Mary researchers that found no negative effects overall, and even some positive impacts, from World Bank development projects on the health of forest habitats for its fellow critically endangered bird species.

The bird in question, the kākāpō, is a nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrot native to New Zealand’s rainforests. It is both the world’s heaviest parrot and quite possibly the world’s longest-lived bird. It is also rapidly going extinct: the direct result of heavy habitat loss driven by human activity.

Less than 160 known kākāpō now remain in the wild. The most famous  Sirocco, a 21-year-old male  has more than 200,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, thanks to a viral clip from the BBC series Last Chance to See in which he was filmed enthusiastically attempting to mate with zoologist Mark Carwardine’s head (prompting the series’ presenter Stephen Fry to comment, “Sorry, but this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. You are being shagged by a rare parrot!”). With more than 7 million views on YouTube, the encounter was an instant hit, massively increasing public interest in the kākāpō’s plight and leading to Sirocco’s appointment by the government of New Zealand as the country’s official spokesbird for conservation.

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