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Kirby and Zippy in their nest box

These two bonded very quickly after meeting each other.

If you’ve visited the Zoo, you’ve likely met a lot of our more than 900 animal residents. Some animals are easy to spot, but others are often not as easy to see because of their habitat set up, their personalities or their sleep cycles among other things. We wanted to start a “Meet the Animals” section of our blog to introduce you to some of the residents that you may (or may not have) met yet!    

The saying goes that birds of a feather flock together, and this rings true for two of our closest animal residents, Kirby the yellow-headed amazon and Zippy the blue-crowned parakeet. These two live in a more secluded part of the Zoo, but chances are you’ve heard a cry for help or a bold hello echoing from their corner of the Zoo. If you have heard these mysterious vocalizations, there’s no need to panic. Kirby and Zippy are just letting you know they’re there! This, among their other silly antics, is why they have been a favorite among guests and staff alike since arriving as former pets in 2016. 

We obtain our animal residents through many different avenues, including through Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendations through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or after rehabbing a non-releasable native species. However, on occasion, we have worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to take in exotic pets who need to be rehomed. Zippy, in particular, came to us through FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program, which arranges to rehome individuals’ nonnative pets that they can no longer care for. Kirby also arrived through a private donation.  

“Parrots require a lot of attention, special diets, intensive care, specialist veterinarians and tend to live a very long time,” said Area Supervisor of Herps and Aquatics, Nicole Payne. “They are a huge commitment and not a good choice for most homes. We appreciate that their former caretakers prioritized Kirby and Zippy’s needs and made a choice to find them new homes for their own well-being.” 

Zippy is always ready for a dance party!

These two parrots have lived in many habitats with several different species across the Zoo since arriving nearly 10 years ago, but they have done best living together on the Caribbean Trail. Parrots are very social creatures, so finding them the right habitat-mate was a priority for their animal care team. Over the years, neither Kirby nor Zippy seemed to bond with others until finding each other!  

“We tried them together, and almost immediately they got along great,” said Nicole. While they do have a sibling-like relationship, such as bickering over who gets attention from their keepers, they are also quite sweet with one another. They often preen each other’s feathers, cuddle together on cold mornings and have been seen feeding one another, noted Nicole.  

Kirby and Zippy are both personality-packed birds! Kirby is known for his loud vocalizations that can be heard from the next loop over. He loves attention and he’s not afraid to raise his voice when he feels like he’s not getting enough. Zippy is a bit quieter, but quite energetic. Next time you visit him, hum an upbeat tune and watch him bounce around to the beat. 

Working with these parrots is a unique experience for many keepers, as the intelligence level of a parrot is often compared to that of a human toddler.   

“Working with parrots is both rewarding and challenging,” said Herps and Aquatics Keeper, Jordan Lowery. “Patience is a very important quality when working with parrots. They are capable of so many things. They are genuinely happy to see us each day, but they can still get frightened or frustrated in certain situations.” 

Kirby has many vocalizations you may hear.

When you flock over for a visit with these two, you’ll likely spot them climbing in various spots across their habitat or napping in one of their nest boxes. They may even be digging through some paper enrichments or puzzle feeders to uncover some delicious treats that are part of their frugivore, meaning mainly fruit-filled, diet.  

Kirby and Zippy are also kept busy practicing their many training behaviors! Whether they’re working on trainings that focus on encouraging natural behaviors, like flying from point to point and hanging upside down from a branch, or medical training that helps them participate in their healthcare, like scale training and drinking from a syringe, these enthusiastic birds are always ready for a challenge. Not to mention Kirby’s special somersault behavior is quite fun to witness! 

After learning all about these two, it will come as no surprise that Kirby and Zippy are both very beloved animal residents. They get frequent and routine visits from both members and staff who find comfort in stopping by for a quick “hello.” 

“Whenever I’m having a tough day or just need a few moments of joy, I go spend some time with them,” said Nicole. “Their excitement at my visit, from a relationship built over several years, combined with their silly antics and personalities never fails to put a smile on my face and warm my heart.” 

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.