Parc Zoologique et Forestier

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Not far from the center of Noumea is a lovely park and zoo in a forest setting.  Proudly displaying many of their endemic species, the locals have designed a park for rambling and exploring.  Encountering beautiful birds in aviaries along the trails, shaded by native trees, and in one large aviary which you enter through protective gates.  The best designed setting was built for the national symbol, the endemic Kagu bird.  Protected only since 1977, there are thought to be only about 1000 of these birds in the wild.  This zoo successfully breeds Kagus, and releases them into the wild, about 100 birds released to date.  Kathy and I were careful to be present for feeding time, and were able to watch up close the Kagus’ beautiful territorial displays towards each other, by spreading their wings and lifting their crest feathers.  The attendant pointed out the location of a single Kagu sitting on the single egg in a nest next to a tree trunk.  The male and female share incubation duties, in 24 hour periods, and the offspring stay with their parents for six years or so.  I was pleased to see an endemic Notou, the largest arboreal pigeon in the world. Steve and I had heard it’s unusual call while we were visiting Queen Hortense’s cave on the Isle of Pines.  Another national symbol is Leach’s giant gecko, which was on display in the vivarium section of the park.

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