18/04/2017
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Six-year-old raises AU$1,000 for endangered Australian parrot

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A six-year-old girl from Victoria, Australia, has raised more than AU$1,000 towards the conservation of the Critically Endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.

Abigail Court visited the state of Victoria’s Moonlit Sanctuary zoo in Pearcedale last year and was so moved by the plight of almost-extinct parrot that she felt she had to do something.

Orange-bellied Parrot now breeds at only one site in Tasmania, having been extirpated from southern mainland Australia, where the very small population of fewer than 30 wild birds still winters. The species has been radically reduced in numbers by the spread of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease and drought in its wintering areas. A captive population has been established as insurance against it completely dying out in the wild and to boost the remaining group.

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A female Orange-bellied Parrot in Tasmania (J J Harrison/wikimedia.commons.org).

After discussing the issue with her mother, Abigail began a 5-cent coin drive with her local girl guide organisation which eventually raised AU$1,002.70. She also gave a speech at her school, Bayswater West Primary, and discussed the personal charity initiative with her local Salvation Army.

Her mother Rebecca was surprised but encouraging to see her daughter so fired up about a conservation cause, saying to Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper that: “She’s always been an animal fanatic. She has visited a lot of zoos, but I have never seen her quite so passionate about one animal. She was fascinated by them; she didn’t want them to land on her but she loved looking at them.”

The Moonlight Sanctuary is trying to breed Orange-bellied Parrots in captivity, with the aim of having 18 pairs this year, though the zoo only has 18 individuals at present. The money raised by Abigail will be used to pay for veterinary expenses in testing the birds before they released into the wild.