There is a fluffy new arrival at The Australian Reptile Park winning hearts of all the staff, meet Banksii the red-tailed black cockatoo chick. The feathered new addition has been taken under the wing of zookeeper, and resident “bird boy”, Josh Collins who has been acting as Banksii’s surrogate mother. In an adorable video posted to the Australian Reptile Park’s Facebook page last night, viewers get to see Banksii’s incredible development over the last month and the amazing bond Keeper Josh has created with the fledgling.

In June 2022, Park staff discovered that Banksii’s mum was unwell with an eye injury, and she was unable to care for Banksii. Flying straight into action, Keeper Josh rescued the baby bird which was just two weeks old whilst other keepers took its mother into veterinary care. Keeper Josh decided to call the little cockatoo Banksii after the red-tailed black cockatoo’s scientific name Calyptorhynchus banksii.

Caring for a baby bird is not as easy as it might seem, especially when also having to continue his ongoing duties caring for the Australian Reptile Park’s 500+ collection of native birds and mammals. When Banksii was first rescued, they required feeding every 4-5 hours and frequent temperature checks due to their lack of feathers. Now, at six weeks old, Banksii is feeding twice a day and is starting solids for the first time.

Keeper Josh says of the opportunity to raise Banksii “I just love birds, so although the circumstances were dire when we had to rescue Banksii and its mum, I just had to jump at the chance!”

He continued “Getting to know Banksii’s personality and bonding with them over the last month has been so rewarding. At the moment, I’m teaching them how to perch for the first time and encouraging them to use their wings.”

“Thankfully Banksii’s mum has made a full recovery and we will be reuniting the two of them in the near future! Banksii is growing up so strong and is showing signs of being a very happy and healthy bird” Keeper Josh concluded.

Australia is home to 14 cockatoo species, of which 11 exist in the wild only in Australia. The main threats to Banksii’s species, the red-tailed black cockatoo, are habitat destruction and clearing for agriculture or forestry. It is estimated that up to 60% of the red-tailed black cockatoo’s wild habitat has been destroyed.

For the time being, Banksii will stay under the care of Keeper Josh until it is big and strong enough to join the flock of red-tailed black cockatoos in the Rainforest Aviary at the Australian Reptile Park. In wonderful news, Banksii’s mum has also had time to recover from her eye infection and has re-joined her family – where she will be reunited with Banksii in the near future.