Many New Zealanders have taken flight across the Tasman to support their home team as they face Sunday’s final of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Melbourne, but one rare fan likely to remain flightless has rallied to show his colours for the cause.
In what is the latest weird Kiwi sporting initiative, Sirocco the kakapo – an international star in his own right – is drumming up support for the BLACKCAPS with a bird call to action.
The rare kakapo, a giant flightless nocturnal parrot who enjoys official New Zealand government status as a spokesperson for conservation, hasn’t been backward in coming forward about his allegiance to the Kiwi cricket stars with a Facebook post letting them know that he’s waiting for their call.
“Skraaarrk!” says Sirocco as he beats his breast in anticipation of the forthcoming match - the New Zealand team’s first ever Cricket World Cup final. “BLACKCAPS – no ducks allowed, but I’ve been practising – you can call me!”
Sirocco could prove to be New Zealand’s secret weapon and ruffle a few feathers in the Aussie camp if his past antics are anything to go by.
From a rare and endangered species of parrots found only in New Zealand, Sirocco is one of less than 150 survivors of his breed and certainly the most famous.
This conservation treasure shot to fame in 2009 when he was caught on camera attempting to mate with the presenter during filming of the BBC series Last Chance to See. A Youtube clip featuring zoologist Mark Carwardine and co-host Stephen Fry trying to avoid Sirocco’s unwelcome advances received more than 700,000 views in just one week.
Since then, there have been more than 6.3 million views, creating a lasting profile for Sirocco who has become an active social media practitioner with 137,000 followers on Facebook and 10,600 on Twitter, including large groups of international fans from Japan and India.
Sirocco had the opportunity to hit the headlines again in the UK in October 2014 as the subject of a new film shot by young Indian film-maker Ashwika Kapur. When Sirocco – How a Dud became a Stud premiered at the Wildscreen Film Festival, it was awarded a ‘Green Oscar’.
Sirocco’s other star turns have included appearances on a Japanese television show and on BBC Earth’s South Pacific documentary narrated by Benedict Cumberpatch.
In 2013 - largely as a result Sirocco’s work - the kakapo was voted the world’s favourite species with over 14,000 votes from 162 countries.
Sirocco spends most of his life on a protected off-shore island but takes an extended annual working holiday in one of several New Zealand mainland wildlife sanctuaries so that he can meet his many fans.