Kakapo to star in new reality TV show
Thu, 17 May 2012 10:16a.m.
By Imogen Crispe
An American production company will feature New Zealand kakapo in a pilot for a new reality TV show.
Emmy award-winning producer-director Mark Zavad and cinematographer Edward Dadulak visited Codfish Island (or Whenua Hou) in December to film a segment for the show called Dr Attila which follows the endeavours of California-based veterinary surgeon Dr Attila Molnar.
Following the filming, Mr Zavad donated some raw footage of the kakapo and the wildlife on Codfish Island, which is near Stewart Island, to the Department of Conservation.
"They were so helpful to us," he says. "We were so amazed at how helpful the people were."
He was also impressed with DOC's work with the kakapo.
"They are doing so much and they really care about these birds."
Mr Zavad says the team came to New Zealand because vet Dr Molnar has a particular interest in avian medicine, and is very interested in kakapo.
"It’s amazing, it was basically a childhood dream of Dr Attila's, he's always been interested in the kakapo," says Mr Zavad.
DOC workers captured a kakapo for the crew to film and scientist Ron Moorhouse performed a health check on the bird.
But Dr Molnar has wide range of skills.
"He will pretty much work on almost anything," says Mr Zavad.
For the same show, the crew have filmed him operating on a white-backed vulture, a camel and a 4.6m python.
Mr Zavad says in future he wants to film the kakapo at night.
"We'd like to come back to Codfish and do more on the kakapo parrot."
DOC ranger Karen Arnold says there is a lot of interest in kakapo coming from the US and the UK, with US schools often doing projects on the endangered bird.
"We have a big following from people who are interested in birds," says Ms Arnold.
She says the kakapo is unusual because it is the only flightless parrot - and the heaviest.
"Even though it's a parrot it doesn't behave like a normal parrot," she says.
The Kakapo Recovery Programme is a joint project between DOC, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters and Forest and Bird. Since it began 22 years ago the number of birds has increased from 50 to 126, down from 131 last year.
"In the early '70s it was thought there were none," Ms Arnold says.
But she says there has been no breeding seen this year.
"They are very slow breeders. The conditions have to be right."
She says the birds do not breed every year, and when they do their chicks are hand-reared by DOC staff before being released back into the wild.
The only places kakapo live are on Codfish Island and Anchor Island, with eight birds recently introduced to Little Barrier Island.
Ms Arnold hopes to put the footage they received on the Kakapo Recovery Programme’s YouTube channel to help spread awareness of the bird.
"Because not many people get to go onto the island and film there's not much footage about."
They are now hoping to work in collaboration with someone to help edit and produce the video.
"If there's someone who could donate their time or experience, we'd be thrilled."
Watch the video for footage from the show.
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20/05/2012 8:51:45 p.m.
Jacqueline Coffey wrote:
I am so excited about this show. I am an elementary school teacher from Va. in the USA and I plan to come to New Zealand in hopes of seeing this amazing bird. My daughter and I fell in love with this bird because of its resilience. I teach in a title I school (gove. funded low income school) and this bird is the inspiration behind my reading groups. I tell the students that if this bird can survive and overcome obstacles so can they. I recenctly recieved an award for teaching excellence and will be using the grant to visit schools in New Zealand and like I said hopefully see this bird. Please send me info about your show. Good luck with it. PS my students wrote letter to the Kakapo. We made up a fiction story about a kakapo named Dawna. Do you think you could name a baby bird this name? It's also my daughters name she is a survivor of 9 back surgeries and has had to learn to walk again after each surgery. I tell her like the kakapo we want to watch "her fly". waiting for her to
19/05/2012 7:09:52 a.m.
S. Randall wrote:
BRILLIANT! I can't wait to see the reality show!
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