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Adelaide Zoo Provides a Second Chance for Rescued Cockatoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 8, 2020 7:45 pm

adelaide zoo rescued cockatoo

Spence the red-tailed black cockatoo settles in at Adelaide Zoo

Photo Credit: Amelia Kennett/ Zoos SA

Adelaide Zoo has rescued an injured south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo. She has been named Spence after the Hundred of Spence in the South-east of South Australia where she was rescued.


The landholder who found Spence contacted an employeee from Birdlife Australia who Zoos SA partner with on the Cockies helping Cockies project and they were able to provide an initial assessment to the bird. They then contacted Zoos SA and their Conservation Manager Dr Liberty Olds met the Birdlife Australia member half way to bring Spence back to Adelaide Zoo.


The Cockies helping Cockies project aims to protect the endangered south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo. As few as 1,500 of these birds remain in the wild. This conservation program helps farmers to plant food trees, fence habitats and undertake woody weed control.


These cockatoos feed only on stringybark and buloke trees. Over 62 percent of these trees have been cleared for agriculture.

adelaide zoo rescued cockatoo

Spence the red-tailed black cockatoo settles in at Adelaide Zoo

Photo Credit: Erin Turrell/ Zoos SA

At Adelaide Zoo Spence was assessed and given an X-ray. This allowed vets to see that she had broken and dislocated the right wing. While this can be treated it would mean she would be in pain from arthritis for the rest of her life.


Spence was proving to be comfortable and around people and had not yet learnt to fly so vets decided to instead amputate the wing and provide her a comfortable, pain-free life at Adelaide Zoo.


After recovering from her surgery Spence has moved to the bird show area where she has met fellow cockatoo Banks.

adelaide zoo rescued cockatoo

An X-ray taken of Spence the red-tailed black cockatoo

Photo Credit: Zoos SA

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Keeper and presenter Erin Turrell said, “Many of our regular visitors will know our male Banks and we’re pleased to say that the two cockatoos, after some initial ignoring of each other, have become friends and can regularly be found hanging out on the same perch.”


The two are enjoying a specially adapted aviary which will allow Spence to move around without her wing. Turrell explained, “Obviously having lost her wing, Spence had a slightly different way of getting around to other birds, which included using her beak and feet a lot more."


“We placed a number of perches and feeders around the exhibit and let Spence show us which ones she preferred and what she was comfortable using.

adelaide zoo rescued cockatoo

A wild south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo

Photo Credit: Geoffery Dabb

At the zoo Spence is providing insights in to the behavior of the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo. Turrell said, “She’s so funny to work with. She’s very fussy and will only eat peanuts with their shells still on.”


“This is probably a nod back to the natural behavior of her species, where cockatoos spend a lot of their time breaking open seed pods and chewing everything around them – she loves destroying things!”


Learn more about Adelaide Zoo on their website – Adelaide Zoo

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