How We’re Helping the Endangered Bird That Inspired a Meme

How We’re Helping the Endangered Bird That Inspired a Meme

by Pia Marchetti

We've all seem this perpetually partying animated bird looping across the World Wide Web. But did you know that the Party Parrot is based on a real critically endangered flightless bird? We're donating all proceeds from our Party Parrot Pin to help.

The Man, the Myth, The Legend: Sirocco 

The Great Party Parrot Mystery lead The Internet™️ on a wild goose chase (wild parrot chase?) for the source of this fantastic fowl. As with many piece of digital ephemera, the creator of this iconic gif is unknown. Luckily, we have positively identified the meme's muse. Most importantly, the good word of Party Parrot lives on forever: Party or Die.

The original party parrot is a member of the kākāpō species, a fat, nocturnal bird native to New Zealand. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes these unusual parrots as having “a face like an owl, a posture like a penguin, and a walk like a duck.” (Tbh, same.) Sometimes they jump from trees thinking they can fly (they can't) and break the fall with their wings. They're adorable.

The most famous kākāpō by far is a handsome boy named Sirocco. This charismatic chap became the spokesbird for the species when his (failed) attempt to mate with a zoologist Mark Carwardine’s head was captured on the BBC’s Last Chance To See. Stephen Fry’s real time commentary that Carwardine was being “shagged by a rare parrot” combined with the bird’s (wholesome?) enthusiasm earned the clip immediate entry into the Annals of The Internet.


Sirocco’s chunky cheeks, sweet face, and loopable shimmy were ripe for memeification, and soon the Party Parrot gif was exported, uploaded, and going viral.

The Legacy of Party Parrot

Sirocco, easily one of the world's most popular parrots, has thoroughly saturated internet culture. The ridiculous bird has become a standard reaction on Slack, especially among developers. (After analyzing our own data, we can report that he's easily the most used reaction in Studio Cult's Slack channels.)

Functioning similarly to an emoji, there are versions of the gif for virtually any occasion, helpfully documented by Cult of the Party Parrot. These other parrots include, but are not limited to Ping Pong Parrot, Sherlock Holmes Parrot, and the quarantine-themed Stay Home Parrot. There's a Party Parrot Subreddit, Party Parrot merch, and even the occasional Party Parrot Tattoo.

Our own love of this frenzied feathered fellow inspired us to release the Party Parrot Pin. Using lenticular printing, we created a wearable analog gif of the premier partying parrot.


Why These Parrots Need Our Help

Unfortunately, Sirocco’s misguided mating strategy is indicative of a larger problem facing the kākāpō. At the time of writing this, there are only about 200 of these strange birds left. Plainly put, this means that the kākāpō are a critically endangered species. We aren't experts, but it certainly doesn’t help that their main defense strategy is to stand very still.

This is why, as of February 2021, we’re pledging all the proceeds from our Party Parrot Pin to the Mauri Ora Kākāpō Trust. This division of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation employs monitoring, health checks, predator control, and supplementary feeding to support the remaining population, as well as artificial incubation and hand rearing programs to supplement natural breeding.

For more information about the kākāpō, and the DOC’s conservation efforts, head to the Mauri Ora Kākāpō Trust’s website where you can also make an individual donation. Only $25 provides a kākāpō with a month of pellets!

We couldn’t be more excited about helping this organization to help these birds, and we can’t wait to share this journey with all of you. Party on!