Animals

These Baby ‘Moss Chickens’ Learning To Walk Is The Cutest Thing You’ll See Today

"They are goofy and irresistible"

The Wildlife Hospital in Dunedin, New Zealand, specializes in treating the country’s native species. They take in all sorts of animals, from reptiles and parrots to penguins and sea lions. Everyone at the hospital loves working with the animals who come in — but they especially love caring for the kākāpō chicks.

Kākāpō, nicknamed moss chickens, are large, flightless, ground-dwelling, nocturnal parrots native to New Zealand. They’re incredibly unique birds and also endangered — so everyone at the hospital keeps a close eye on the kākāpō in the area, especially the babies. They have extensive experience rearing chicks, so whenever there are kākāpō who need help, they often get sent to Dunedin.

Recently, they’ve taken in several baby moss chickens and are working to get them strong enough to eventually be released back into the wild.

“They were brought in from the wild for a few different reasons,” Jordana Whyte, trust manager at The Wildlife Hospital, Dunedin, told The Dodo. “Two of them have broken legs … Five of the chicks have a fungal disease called aspergillosis which causes respiratory issues. This is a naturally occurring disease and we do expect to see some of it during a major kākāpō breeding season. And we have one chick that just … didn’t know exactly how to kākāpō? There’s nothing wrong with him, medically speaking. He’s just not quite gotten the hang of things and the team at the Department of Conservation thought it would be better for him to get some extra attention with us.”

These baby moss chickens have a ton of personality. The team recently took a video of some of the chicks learning how to walk, and the results are absolutely perfect.

 

“They are just getting to the age where they are becoming total clowns,” Whyte said. “They are goofy and irresistible. We have one that is really grumpy and sensitive; one that is obsessed with trying to bite the toes of our vets and vet nurses; one that is startled by EVERYTHING — we call him Scooby — which is completely ridiculous; and others that are just generally awkward and wonderful. We will get to know them all personally by the end of their stay with us.”

The chicks the hospital have right now are between 5 and 8 weeks old and are all currently learning the skills they’ll need to survive in the wild. The staff truly loves watching them grow, and couldn’t be more honored to get to work with these delightful little birds.

“I can’t overstate what a privilege it is to work with these incredibly endangered birds,” Whyte said. “The chicks we’ve had since they were very tiny are especially rewarding to watch get bigger and stronger. We enjoy seeing their personalities come out, or achieve something like not falling over when trying to walk across the pen for the first time.”

Around 80 percent of the native species in New Zealand are facing extinction, and the kākāpō are sadly no exception. There are only 199 kākāpō left in the world currently. But, the team at The Wildlife Hospital, Dunedin are doing their best to care for these animals, so hopefully, the moss chickens will be around for many years to come.

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