Kakapow! Rare world’s fattest parrot has record breeding season

These three kakapo chicks on their nest on Codfish Island, also known as Whenua Hou, are among the 249 eggs that have hatched so far in this year’s breeding season. (New Zealand Department of Conservation/AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019

Kakapow! Rare world’s fattest parrot has record breeding season

  • Females control the breeding process and only mate every two to four years when New Zealand’s native rimu trees are full of fruit
  • The surviving kakapo — whose name means ‘night parrot’ in Maori — are kept on four predator-free islands

WELLINGTON: The world’s fattest parrot, the critically endangered kakapo, has enjoyed a record-breaking breeding season, New Zealand scientists said Thursday, with climate change possibly aiding the species’ unique mating spree.
Less than 50 years after the flightless nocturnal bird was thought to have been extinct, at least 75 chicks are expected to survive this year, Andrew Digby, a science adviser to New Zealand’s kakapo recovery, operation said.
Digby oversees a breeding program so precisely monitored that scientists can state the last of 249 eggs laid will hatch on Friday.
It will significantly boost the population which has grown to 147 adults since a small number of the plump green, yellow and black birds was discovered in 1970.
Digby described the kakapo as an “unusual” parrot as the females control the breeding process and only mate every two to four years when New Zealand’s native rimu trees are full of fruit.
“We don’t quite know what the trigger is but one of the things we are looking at is that the rimu berry is really high in vitamin D, a super food basically, which is associated with fertility and health,” he said.

The rimu trees have produced a bumper crop this year with Digby saying one theory was that climate change and temperature fluctuations could be behind the berry bonanza.
The surviving kakapo — whose name means “night parrot” in Maori — are kept on four predator-free islands off the New Zealand coast.
At the start of the breeding season, the males which weigh about 4 kilograms (nine pounds), put themselves on display while the females choose a partner.
They mate and then end the relationship, shutting the male out of the incubation and rearing processes.
The kakapo recovery program is so tightly monitored that although they remain in the wild, each one has a radio transmitter attached to its body and there are monitoring systems embedded in their nests.
Digby knew that of the 50 adult females, 49 produced 249 eggs, of which 89 have so far hatched and 75 were expected to make it to adulthood.
That is more than double the success rate from the last breeding season three years ago.
“It’s probably one of the most intensively managed species in the world,” said Digby, who wants at least 500 birds before any thought is given to easing up the intensity of the recovery operation.


South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

Updated 25 May 2020

South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

  • It is believed the robots could help with social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues
  • The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year

DAEJEON, South Korea: The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is courteous and swift as it seamlessly makes its way toward customers.
“Here is your Rooibos almonds tea latte, please enjoy. It’s even better if you stir it,” it says, as a customer reaches for her drink on a tray installed within the large, gleaming white capsule-shaped computer.
After managing to contain an outbreak of the new coronavirus which infected more than 11,000 people and killed 267, South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules toward what the government calls “distancing in daily life.”
Robots could help people observe social distancing in public, said Lee Dong-bae, director of research at Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider which developed the barista robot together with a state-run science institute.
“Our system needs no input from people from order to delivery, and tables were sparsely arranged to ensure smooth movements of the robots, which fits will with the current ‘untact’ and distancing campaign,” he said.
The system, which uses a coffee-making robotic arm and a serving robot, can make 60 different types of coffee and serves the drinks to customers at their seats. It can also communicate and transmit data to other devices and contains self-driving technology to calculate the best routes around the cafe.
An order of six drinks, processed through a kiosk, took just seven minutes. The only human employee at the two-story cafe was a patissier who also has some cleaning duties and refills ingredients.
The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year.
“Robots are fun and it was easy because you don’t have to pick up your order,” said student Lee Chae-mi, 23. “But I’m also a bit of worried about the job market as many of my friends are doing part-time jobs at cafes and these robots would replace humans.”