Cuckoo Training Story

here's the training Story of An Ambassador Cuckoo...

Guira cuckoos are social birds found in several countries in South America such as Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina.  They are typically found in open or semi-open areas. They have been able to easily adapt to areas with human growth and are commonly found in suburbs and cities. The Guira cuckoo are often housed in aviaries but is not an animal commonly trained as an ambassador animal.

Kevin, our Guira cuckoo, is a small bird with a big personality. Kevin (named after the bird in the Disney film Up) came to us from a zoo where he was housed in an aviary and reportedly got along far better with the animal care staff than his cuckoo counterparts.  Once Kevin arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom®, his training program to become an ambassador animal began. He was trained how to sit still on the scale for the animal care staff to obtain regular weights. He also learned to crate and shift to his night house when cued by staff. All of these behaviors are essential in order to take great care of Kevin.

The ultimate goal was to have Kevin flying in our outdoor stage venue. On this journey he learned to station on a perch and fly to various spots including branches, hand held perches, and hands. One of his favorite perches continues to be human heads. Although we have worked on making other spots far more reinforcing he will still occasionally grace a keeper or unsuspecting guest with a brief stop-over, unceremoniously using them as a springboard to the next perch. We started his free flight training inside classrooms, flying to volunteers holding a perch and allowing them a close up view of a cuckoo not many people get to experience. Kevin’s training eventually made his way to the outdoor stage at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

His “official” debut on the outdoor stage for the It All Started with a Mouse show was in 2013. Kevin continues to delight guests in every interaction he has.  Guira cuckoos are not known for their graceful flying abilities, therefore, every show is an adventure!