Julia the Thick-billed Parrot
Hatch Date: August 8, 1999
Julia hatched right here at the Sacramento Zoo where we have a large population of Thick-billed Parrots and participate in the Species Survival Plan® breeding program. Julia is part of a great effort to protect this endangered species and when she got an infection which took part of her tongue, she was not able to be placed with the other parrots in the big exhibit in the Zoo. So, she took on an important role for her species: becoming an ambassador, educating visitors and school children about Thick-billed Parrots.
Julia joined the other animal ambassadors in the Interpretive Center, where she now participates in the Wildlife Stage Shows, ZooMobiles, and other education programs. Thick-billed Parrots are the last living native parrot in North America, but their habitat is declining and the populations are threatened with extinction. Julia does her part to help by raising money for the SSP®, so far raising over $2,000 by collecting money during the stage show.
How do you train a parrot to collect money? Julia has always liked to eat her food off to the side of her cage or table so that the food falls on the floor. The keepers took this natural behavior of dropping food and through operant conditioning, they trained her to accept dollar bills and drop them into a bucket. She knows she is doing a good job when her keepers reward her with her favorite treats. She likes grapes, bananas and the leaves off broccoli stalks, but she especially loves big nuts (the small ones are hard to eat with her small tongue).
Julia is protective of her keepers and is always helpful in telling the group when danger is near. She will sound her alarm call when she sees a hawk, or vulture overhead; but she also calls her alarm when a plane flies by or someone carries a broom or even a cane. She is just extra careful about possible dangers.
In the Interpretive Center some of her favorite activities are bathing in the sink, destroying things like pumpkins and 2x4s, and at the end of the day she sleeps upside down in her sleep-sac.