Photo courtesy of Ministry of Primary Industries, New Zealand via The Guardian

Australian Cockatoo Stows Away on Cruise Ship, Travels 1,400 Miles

One well-traveled parrot is very happy to be home after taking a luxury cruise.

Cruise ship staff discovered the escaped parrot, an Australian cockatoo known as a galah, when the ship docked at Milford Sound in New Zealand's South Island. The ship had traveled over 1,400 miles on high seas by the time the bird was discovered.

Upon discovering the stowaway, ship staff notified the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Since the galah is not a species native to New Zealand, and New Zealand's native bird population is highly vulnerable to threats like avian diseases from invasive species, MPI officers and cruise ship staff were faced with a tough choice.

"The only way for the ship to enter New Zealand was to have the bird euthanised or secured and bonded to the vessel," said MPI Border Clearance Services Manager, Andrew Spelman.

The staff of the cruise ship decided to save the lucky parrot's life. They enclosed the stowaway cockatoo in one of the ship's empty cabins. That allowed the ship to continue its journey, and ensured that the bird would remain safe for the remainder of the trip.

MPI officials required photographic evidence of the bird's containment in the private cabin and the name of the crew member who would be responsible for caring for the bird. According to Spelman, "There was also a requirement for MPI officers to check on the bird and its containment facilities at every new port visit in New Zealand."

Fortunately, upon examination, MPI found a microchip embedded in the Australian galah and was able to track down its owner in Brisbane, Australia.

The cruise ship returned to Australia last week, and its avian stowaway was cleared to fly home to its family in Brisbane pending the results of a veterinary examination.

What do you think of this globe-trotting galah's cruise ship adventure? Let us know in the comments section!

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