Paradise Park

Wildlife Sanctuary • Cornwall

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The passing of Bill the kookaburra

October 2021

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Bill the kookaburra.

Keeper Kirsty Snoxall tells his story “Bill arrived at Paradise Park in 2009 along with his sister Bong (BillaBong) from Whipsnade Zoo where they flew in flying displays. However, with them both regularly ending up sitting in a tiger enclosure, the decision was taken for them to come to Paradise Park and take part in our displays.

Keeper Sarah-Jayne and Bill the Kookaburra Paradise Park Cornwall Bill with Keeper Kirsty Bill and Keeper Danny Paradise Park
Here Bill is photographed with Keepers Sarah-Jayne, Kirsty and Danny

Bill appeared regularly in the Free Flying Bird Show and soon became a firm favourite with the audience and staff. He would catch pieces of food in mid air demonstrating how good kookaburras are at catching flying insects but always kept the keepers on their toes as to how high he was prepared to fly for a catch on any particular day.

Below is a short clip of Bill with Curator David Woolcock.

I think we can safely say that Bill was best known for his battles with a rubber snake! Snakes are a favourite food in the wild so a rubber version was used to show how a kookaburra would tackle preparing to eat one. Basically they grab the snake behind the head, to avoid being bitten by one of the many poisonous species native to Australia, and bash it backward and forward. We soon found out that it was essential for us to keep hold of the snake as Bill’s natural instinct would kick in and he would sit in a tree trying to kill it, needless to say that took awhile! The moment Bill took hold of the snake never failed to bring a smile and a laugh from the audience. Countless times people have told me that Bill and the snake was their favourite part of the show. Although he was an extremely placid and gentle bird, he wasn’t to be messed with and many a seagull soon learnt that the corner of the JungleBarn balcony was Bill’s spot!

Bill meeting visitors during flying Show Paradise Park
Bill spending time with visitors to Paradise Park

At 18 years old Bill reached a very good age for a captive kookaburra. Despite being under veterinary care for the last three years, his condition was well managed so he was still able to regularly enjoy appearing in the display, taking time out when needed. Unfortunately Bill became ill again at the end of September and, despite the true dedication and care from his keepers and the vet, this last illness proved too much for Bill. He will be very sadly missed but we celebrate the joy he brought to so many.”

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