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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Forest Gnomes Caught on Film

Published 09/15/09
By Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate

Accoding to popular folklore Forest Gnomes are tiny and charming creatures that dwell deep in the forest. Shy and reclusive characters, they prefer a life in which no one knows where they live, so they stay hidden and spy on forest intruders from behind tree trunks and mushroom caps.

This is exactly what I was reminded of when I first saw pygmy parrots in the forests of Indonesia while traveling with the Indonesian Parrot Project. These tiny green parrots, scarcely bigger than a man's thumb, are the smallest parrots in the world and rarely seen in the wild.

I was very lucky.

Recenly an expedition team with the BBC also got lucky, and for the first time caught these tiny parrots on film (the only way parrots should ever be captured!).

What I love about this footage is not only seeing these amazing little parrots, but the comentary by the cameraman who is also a scientist.

He is not afraid to say that the parrots are "adorable" and comments on how "devoted" they are to each other. Such characterizations are often looked down upon in the scientific community.

But more and more science is catching up with what many of us have known all along — animals have emotional lives not so different than our own.

Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, has done much to help bring about this change in how science views animals and has written several books on the topic.

Speaking of Marc Bekoff, Marc was kind enough to write an endorsement for my book Lucky which is based on a true story about a parrot who is captured for the pet trade and regains his freedom with the help of a young boy who recognizes Lucky's emotions and his desire to be free.

Just to make this whole blog come full circle, the real Lucky was set free in the same forest that I saw those adorable forest gnomes, ur ... umm ... pygmy parrots.

Blogging off,


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