Is Nelson the parrot the ugliest bird in the world?

Nelson the parrot is a real-life ugly duckling

A real-life ugly duckling

Kea offspring at the zoo in Halle

Germans appear to have found a replacement for Knut the cute bear: Nelson, the ugly bird. He’s a parrot at the Leipzig zoo who looks like an Ewok who’s been chewed up and spat out. The Daily Mail dubbed him “the ugliest bird in the world”—a cross, they said, between a “roast chicken and an alien.”

Like Knut, the famed polar bear born to the Berlin Zoo, Nelson was rejected by his mother. From the start, Owaka “wouldn’t have anything to do with him,” says Timm Spretke, the zoo’s deputy director—she wouldn’t even nurse him. Feeding him has been left to zoo workers, who have a less exacting standard of beauty. Nelson spent his first month in an incubator, and now he’s being cared for by zoo employees, though Spretke said Nelson doesn’t have much of an appetite: “He’s not quite out of the woods yet.”

The story bears such a striking resemblance to the beginning of The Ugly Duckling that people are already predicting that Nelson, if he survives, will grow up to be a beautiful Kea parrot. Throw in the fact that he’s been raised by humans, and you might have a beautiful bird with a grudge against his own kind.

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