Philippine Cockatoos are one of the world's rarest parrots with only a tiny number left on a few islands.

Add to that the fact they are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and the result is a species faced with potential extinction. But we have an excellent record of breeding them in Chester.

Our keepers came up with the idea to set up a 'bird dating agency' away from public view so they have peace and quiet and the female is given the pick of the males.

Our work with the Philippine cockatoo

She's kept in one aviary from where she can see males in next door aviaries through small windows.

Below each window is a perch and we get to know which of the males she prefers by observing which perch she sits on most.

We can tell this by the amount of wood she chews. For males she wasn’t very interested in and hadn’t spent much time near there was very little chewing, but the perch next to her favourite male was chewed to bits.

In 2010 this method led to our first successful breeding attempts when two chicks were successfully reared.

Our keepers have also flown to the Philippines to help breeding projects there through our Philippine conservation programme. It has led to a four-fold increase Philippine Cockatoos on Rasa Island.

We've also supported projects to move bird pairs from specially established breeding centres to other suitable locations in the hope of building numbers further.

In addition we work to educate local people about the desperate plight of these Cockatoos and the need to safeguard them for future generations.

Every time you visit Chester Zoo to see our rare birds and other animals you help us to continue with this important conservation work, both here in Chester and in the wild.

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Interesting facts

Where they live: Formally widespread throughout the Philippines, now small populations are restricted to a few Islands, notably Palawan, Masbate, Tawi Tawi, W. Mindanao and San Miguel Island.

Habitat: Originally used to be found in Dipterocarp forest in the interior, but most of this has now been cleared now confined to edge of lowland rainforest, and mangroves, which may provide some safe nesting sites.

Diet: Seeds, fruits, nuts, berries. Also raids farmers maize and banana crops.

Weight: 300grams.

Threats: Widespread trapping for the cage bird trade. Most if not all known wild nests are watched by bird trappers, resulting in the removal of all young chicks and therefore no recruitment into the ageing wild population.

Species Information

Scientific name Cacatua haematuropygia
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae
Genus Cacatua
IUCN status Critically Endangered
Roles in the zoo

Insurance population: This is a species that is extinct in the wild or is in imminent danger of extinction. We’re helping to manage a breeding programme at Chester Zoo as part of a conservation action plan.

In situ Conservation Ambassador

Flagship species: This is a species acting as an ambassador for one of our conservation programmes in the wild.

Species conservation: This is a species for which we have a significant focus on in the wild, as part of our conservation projects and programmes around the world.

Habitat conservation: This is a species that we support through our habitat-focused conservation projects and programmes around the world.

Chester Zoo Community Projects: We contribute to conservation projects run by the zoo community that help support this species in the wild.

Education

Human Impact: This species helps demonstrate that human activities are causing serious environmental damage.

Partnerships: This species helps demonstrate that we work in partnerships with other organisations to conserve nature and natural resources.

Chester Zoo: This species helps demonstrate that as a charity Chester Zoo’s mission is to be a major force in conserving biodiversity worldwide.

You! This species helps demonstrate that we can all make changes to help the environment and zoos can help inspire people to do this.