Garden News Blog

Visit to the Noumea Zoological and Botanical Garden

After exploring the local market, we decided to visit the zoological and botanical garden in Noumea. We were very pleasantly surprised to find an excellent zoo with large, well-kept and rather open enclosures for the animals. The zoo has an affiliation with the World Wildlife Fund and has excellent interpretation throughout. I was, of course, very excited to see a few endemic plants including Araucaria columnaris

and Acacia spirorbis

and a native Dysoxylum species.

The birders on the trip were slightly more excited to see the endemic and much celebrated Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus).

Not being a birder, my favorite bird of the day was the horned parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus).

We will hopefully see both of these birds in the wild.

Susan Pell is the director of science at BBG, where she studies the evolutionary relationships of the cashew family. She holds a PhD in plant biology and teaches continuing education and training courses in genetics, angiosperm morphology, and systematics.


  • Bradley Klein March 18, 2011

    That’s not a kountable kagu, of kourse, being kaptive.

    Here’s what wiki says: “The Kagu is a ground-living bird, 55 cm (22 in) in length. The weight can vary considerably by individual and by season, ranging from 700–1,100 g (25–39 oz). Its plumage is unusually bright for a bird of the forest floor; ash-grey and white coloured. There is little sexual dimorphism beyond a difference in the amount of barring in the primary feathers.[5] It possesses powder downs which help keep it dry and insulate it in the extremes of New Caledonia’s tropical climate. The crest, which is used to display to other members of the species, is barely noticeable when at rest but can be erected and fanned out. It is nearly flightless, using its wings for displays (its primary wing feathers are patterned), and for moving quickly through the forest. It can also use them to glide when fleeing danger. The wings are not reduced in size like some other flightless birds, and have a span of around 77.5 cm (30.5 in), but they lack the musculature for flight.[5] It possesses bright red legs which are long and strong, enabling the bird to travel long distances on foot and run quickly. It has large eyes, positioned so that they give good binocular vision which is helpful in finding prey in the leaf litter and seeing in the gloom of the forest. It possesses ‘nasal corns’, structures covering its nostrils, which are a feature not shared by any other bird. These are presumed to prevent particles entering the nostrils when probing in soil during feeding. Another unique characteristic of the species is that has only one-third the red blood cells and three times the hemoglobin per RBC compared to the usual situation in birds.[5]
    Kagus make a range of different sounds, most commonly duetting in the morning, each duet lasting about 15 minutes.

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Image, top of page:
Araucariaceae Araucaria columnaris. Photo by Susan Pell.
Fabaceae Acacia spirorbis
Fabaceae Acacia spirorbis. Photo by Susan Pell.
Meliaceae Dysoxylum
Meliaceae Dysoxylum. Photo by Susan Pell.
Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus)
Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus). Photo by Susan Pell.
Horned Parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus)
Horned parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus). Photo by Susan Pell.