Regardless of his having a face (and, well, everything else) only a mother could love, Nelson the baby Kea parrot was rejected by his parents just after hatching. Luckily for this “ugly duckling”, Nelson was born at Germany's Leipzig Zoo where dedicated keepers and carers are raising him. What's more, Nelson's plight has garnered him gifts, groupies and a ticket to celebrity stardom.
Though superficially Nelson has taken steps down the same path as Knut, “the cute polar bear,” the secret of Nelson's attractiveness is more emotional than physical. Indeed, Germany's Bild magazine described him as “a cross between a roast chicken and an alien,” and after checking out newly-hatched Nelson we'd say they were being kind.
Time heals all wounds, however, and as the days passed and Nelson's first feather's sprouted and spread, the so-called “hideous creature” has gradually morphed from ghastly to gnarly. Showing Nelson a mirror is still a dicey proposition though – the former's confidence could crack and as for the latter, well, at least mirrors don't have any confidence.
Fans of celebrity animals have been a growing constituency since Knut took the world by storm in 2007, and not even the tragic end of Til the earless bunny (who was accidentally stepped on by a cameraman) earlier this year can restrain Nelson's flight to celebrity stardom.
Yes, things are definitely looking up for Nelson. Born ugly and rejected, he'll grow up to become a strikingly beautiful Kea parrot. Rare and endangered, these curious and colorful birds are the world's only alpine parrots and sources credit them with a surprisingly high level of intelligence. Chin up, Nelson, Einstein wasn't much of a looker either! (via The Local, photographs by Steffen Schellhorn)