Living a Zoo Dream – Double Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot

Everybody loves fun facts about the zoo, such as the biggest animal and how much the lion weighs. But one trivia question that has a most surprising answer is, “Which animal at the zoo is the oldest?”

Most people think of the Colobus monkeys, the snapping turtle or Ozzie, our desert tortoise. But the correct answer is Korbell, a double yellow-headed Amazon parrot. (I know, the photo gave it away.)

Korbell will be an amazing 44 years old, which makes her older than many of the staff members at the zoo, including me. If you saw our Facebook posts, you will recognize her from her great duet of the “Andy Griffith Show” theme song she did with one of our keepers a few weeks back. These parrots can live to be 50 to 80 years old in captivity, so we expect Korbell to be at the zoo for many years to come.


Double yellow-headed Amazon parrots, like other parrots, are intelligent, so the zoo staff works hard to keep them challenged both mentally and physically. This includes providing various forms of enrichment, using puzzle feeders and offering lots of human interaction. It is important to us that every animal at the zoo lives a healthy, happy and enriched life.

Besides caring for these great animals, our mission is to educate others about conservation to ensure that we care for our environment and all animals in it. Double yellow-headed Amazon parrots are native to Central America and Mexico. However, the capture of parrots for the pet industry has nearly driven this species to extinction. The wild population has declined from 70,000 to 7,000 in the past two decades, and it is now legal to own only captive-bred double yellow-headed Amazons.

We try to remind everyone who comes to the zoo that while many of our animals seem like they would make fun pets, the appropriate care, handling, and enrichment of these animals is complicated and should not be taken lightly. Also, any time you are purchasing or adopting a pet, you should make sure you are using a reputable vendor.

As we approach our busy spring season at the zoo, we are continuing to think about “More to Do at the Zoo.” We want the zoo to not only be a great place to visit and see amazing animals but also a resource to the Duluth community and tourists that highlight the great outdoors and nature experiences. Also, we are looking for ways to engage unique audiences that don’t visit the zoo as often, including teens and young adults in their 20s and 30s.

We are working on some creative ideas such as geocaching and music at the zoo, but we would love your thoughts as we continue to improve the zoo as an attraction for all. Please post comments or send emails to the zoo if you have ideas. Also, we will continue to share all of our new opportunities as they are created.

I will be out next week enjoying spring break with my family in southern Utah, so I’ll have my next blog the week of March 20. We are excited to explore the great national parks of this region and share new experiences in nature with our kids. My challenge to you this week, regardless of whether you have spring break, is to get your kids in nature for some activity next week.

Go for a hike, visit a local park or the zoo, or go bird watching. Share your love and passion for this world with your kids, so they can truly understand its beauty and their role in protecting it.

Corey Leet is CEO of the Lake Superior Zoo. You can contact him at or 218-730-4500, extension 203. Find his blog at and on the Lake Superior Zoo’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.

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