Wellington Zoo prepares new kea exhibit

Beware your valuables if you're visiting Wellington Zoo's new kea exhibit: the curious parrots might take a shine to them.

The zoo's new walk-through enclosure will give visitors the chance to get closer than ever to the alpine birds.

"They are very friendly, and they'll well and truly introduce themselves to the visitors," says Robert Stoop, Wellington Zoo's team leader for herbivores.

Six cheeky kea have moved in to the new aviary - Murray is the oldest at 36 and the youngest are three chicks.

Kea are the world's only alpine parrot, and are considered endangered in the wild due to threats from introduced predators and conflict with humans.

They're known to be curious and can sometimes cause trouble by picking at people's keys and cameras, but Mr Stoop says "as long as people don't try to share their lunch with them they should be fine".

Wellington Zoo prepares new kea exhibit
There's six kea currently in the Wellington Zoo's new exhibit, and two more will be moving in soon (supplied)

He says the walk-through aviary will give people a chance to see the beautiful feathers on the undersides of the birds' wings while they fly around the aviary.

The aviary is the newest addition to the Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha section at Wellington Zoo, described as a "love story to Aotearoa New Zealand".

The exhibit was designed to imitate the kea's natural alpine habitat.

It will be open to the public in time for Wellington's Anniversary Weekend, when there will be talks about the birds at 10:45am and 1:30pm.