The female Ahi lives with three males. They all get on well but Ahi is the boss. Ahi is paired with Tane. The youngest is Ariki. You can tell a small kea from an adult by a distinctive yellow colouration around its eyes, mandible and nostrils which fades to black/brown by the age of 3-4 years. Charlie has lived at Hamilton Zoo since he hatched in 1986. He was the kea egg to hatch at our Zoo so he’s a special member of the team. Charlie is the star of his very own book, written by zoo keeper Kylie Martin. "Cheeky Charlie" can be purchased from the Hamilton Zoo shop with all proceeds going to the Kea Conservation Trust, which the Zoo also supports through its Conservation Fund.
Kea are super-intelligent and very inquisitive. To enrich their lives at the Zoo we give them things like puzzles they need to solve to get a food reward, as well as things like pine cones, ice blocks, rotten logs to chew up, and fresh branches to pull to bits.
Maori gave the species their common name, kea, describing the sound of their call. They belong to the same family as kakapo and kaka. Kea are the second largest parrot in New Zealand after the kakapo.
Like all parrots the kea has four toes on each foot – two that point forward and two that point backward. This allows it to easily manipulate objects and move around in the trees and on the ground.
In the wild kea live high up in the mountains of the South Island.
Kea are the only mountain parrot species in the world and now number fewer than 5000 in the wild.
Four simple actions to help
If you are in kea country, there are some simple rules: Don’t feed Kea. Our food can make them sick and it turns them into beggars! Watch out and slow down for kea. Put your gear away, clean up your rubbish and close your doors, then they won’t be able to take your things!
Supporting the Kea Conservation Trust
The Hamilton Zoo Conservation Fund supports the Kea Conservation Trust, which aims to assist in the conservation of wild kea in their natural habitat and increase the husbandry standards in captive facilities within New Zealand.
Famous for their cheeky antics and intelligence. Hamilton Zoo is home to four kea - Charlie, Tane, Ahi and Ariki.