A sulfur-crested cockatoo, named Kitty Bird because he likes to meow like a cat, recently joined the Aquarium of Niagara.
He is acclimating well to his new surroundings and is forming close bonds to his trainers, Samantha Dorsaneo, Hallie Schultz and Brock Malenke.
Kitty Bird came to the Aquarium of Niagara from a private donor.
"Even though you can buy these birds in most pet stores, they're not ideal house pets," explained Malenke, assistant trainer in marine mammals. "Cockatoos often outlive their owners and require a lot of care. Birds like these thrive in an aquarium like ours. He gets a lot of attention from the staff."
"Kitty Bird never had any formal training," Dorsaneo said. "So we're concentrating on the basics and relationships. This bird loves attention, so the aquarium is truly an ideal place for him. Since cockatoos are omnivores we can reward him with a variety of incentives, including cheeses and meats. "
"Training a cockatoo is a bit different than training a sea lion or seal," said marine mammal trainer Schultz. "With our mammals, we use a target stick and train the animals to touch their nose to the ball on the end of the stick. With a bird, we use what's called a lollypop stick (a miniature version of a target stick), and Kitty Bird is learning to touch his beak to the end of the stick. Training for all animals is a long, patient process, because we want the animals to be comfortable at all times."
Patrons can soon visit Kitty Bird at the Aquarium of Niagara.