We recently treated a wild Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo for a gunshot wound.

The cockatoo was brought into Perth Zoo’s veterinary hospital with a bullet lodged in it’s  left elbow after being found sitting in a tree dazed, underweight and unable to fly. The Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo needed urgent medical attention. Our vets stepped up to the task, quickly prepping the young adult bird for surgery and successfully removing the lethal bullet.  

X-ray of a Black Cockatoo showing a bullet lodged in the bird's left elbow

Shooting a bird with an air rifle is not only illegal but it’s an extremely cruel act. Rather than killing the bird, it will often lead to an injury that leaves the bird unable to fly, inhibiting it’s ability to find food or water, with the bird eventually dying a long and cruel death.

After eight days receiving extensive support and plenty of TLC at our hospital, the little survivor moved to Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, commencing a period of rehabilitation. The road to recovery will be a long one!

Black Cockatoo at Perth Zoo veterinary hospital getting checked over by the vets

Whilst the latest check-up at Perth Zoo showed an improved range of motion in the elbow, the future for the cockatoo is still uncertain. The latest x-rays showed that there is still swelling around the elbow joint and will need to be reassessed in two-months to see if there is any improvement. Elbow injuries in cockatoos often have poor outcomes due the joints freezing (ankylose) and usually results in the bird never being able to fly normally, if at all, again. 

The Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is Near Threatened and only produces one young every second year, making it very difficult to increase the species’ numbers – so having a bird of breeding age shot and left to die could have a devastating impact on the species population. 

Sadly, this is not an uncommon story. 

Perth Zoo treats over 300 black cockatoos every single year – many are illegally shot or have been hit by cars. Our aim is to get as many injured wild black cockatoos back out to the open skies. Unfortunately, not all of the injured birds get that second chance – and this cockatoo isn’t out of the woods yet. Although we have our fingers, toes and wings crossed.

It is illegal to shoot black cockatoos, with penalties of up to $10,000 for shooting black cockatoos under the Wildlife Conservation Act, and up to $250,000 for an individual under the Commonwealth legislation. 

Thanks to Western Areas for sponsoring our Black Cockatoo exhibit.