I grew up here, and visited the Zoo as a kid. I have worked at Denver Zoo as a bird keeper since 2003. The kea, an endangered parrot native to New Zealand, is my favorite species; they are a constant source of challenge due to their insatiable curiosity. I have been Coordinator for our kea Species Survival Program (SSP) with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 2008.
I am proud that Denver Zoo has supported the Kea Conservation Trust since 2018, through grant funding for projects to help save this endangered species. Funding has gone to critical equipment such as radio transmitters and aerial signal receivers to track female kea and determine if they are nesting—as well as two-way radios for field staff to use in the backcountry.
In February of 2020, these grants helped to fund my research trip to New Zealand, where I assisted the Lead-Free Kea project with trapping, testing and tracking wild kea for lead toxicity. While we are currently unable to travel due to COVID-19, I continue to support the project—working remotely to enter historical data into the Kea Sightings Database.
Denver Zoo remains committed to conservation even during the toughest of times. Sometimes we have to get creative to find ways to support organizations from afar when travel isn’t possible, and this project shows that it is possible to make a big impact for an endangered species from across the world.