The young Carnaby’s Cockatoo was burnt whilst sitting next to a bird which was electrocuted and engulfed in flames on a power line.
A passer-by took the surviving cockatoo to a local veterinary hospital before it arrived at Perth Zoo for specialised wildlife treatment.
Perth Zoo Veterinarian, Dr Peter Ricci, said: “Perth Zoo treats more than 200 endangered wild cockatoos each year but having a bird come in that’s been burnt and potentially electrocuted is something we don’t see too often.”
The cockatoo had many of its wing feathers badly damaged so once he was stable he was put under anaesthesia to undergo a procedure to rebuild his wing feathers.
“We take feathers from a donor bird, one that’s passed away, and transplant them to a live bird so that they can fly again,” Dr Ricci said.
“Implanting the new feathers involves using some pretty basic tools including matchsticks and super-glue. The trick is to get the right feather in the right place at the right angles before the glue dries.”
Dr Ricci said the procedure could be compared to hair extensions for humans.
Once he’s well enough the cockatoo will go to a rehabilitation centre to prepare for its return to the wild. The feather implants on its wings will give the bird a better chance of making it through rehabilitation, allowing him to have some flight ability and build strength and fitness.
The implanted feathers will naturally drop out once the cockatoo gets a new set of wing feathers which naturally occurs from February to April each year.
Carnaby’s Cockatoos are endangered, and one of three species of black cockatoo found in south-west Western Australia.
Working together with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth Zoo’s veterinary hospital treats hundreds of injured wild black cockatoos, with many rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Perth Zoo is also actively involved in research on the health of wild black cockatoos.