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Denver Zoo has first successful hatching of rare parrot species kea

DENVER — The Denver Zoo said Wednesday it has had its first successful hatching of a kea, a large species of a vulnerable parrot.

The female bird, named Scarlet, was hatched on Feb. 8 and has been hand-reared by zookeepers.

The arrival marks only the 38th kea at North American zoos, with 14 of them females, officials said.

Because keas are difficult to breed, zookeepers did thorough research and built a large nest box with a tunnel entrance to encourage Scarlet’s mother, Anna, to breed with her mate, Sorento.

It resulted in four eggs. And while zookeepers wanted to give the birds a chance to incubate the eggs, two of them broke. Zookeepers took the other two eggs and incubated them artificially.

Scarlet is growing behind the scenes and will be placed with her parents when she’s older. She will go on public display soon at the zoo’s bird world habitat, officials said.

Zoo officials said keas are one of the few alpine species of parrot, and are found mostly in the mountains of New Zealand.

Adults can grow to about 19 inches long and weigh about 2 pounds. Their feathers are mostly olive green except for the bright, reddish-orange coloring under their wings.

There are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 keas in the wild, though that total could be lower, zoo officials said.

The species has been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because of a number of threats.