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Hamilton Zoo Releases Special Kokako Pair

Hamilton Zoo Releases Special Kokako Pair


For Immediate Release

A pair of kokako, a rare species of New Zealand bird, are leaving Hamilton Zoo and being released in the wild at Puketi Forest in Northland.

The male (transferred to the zoo in 2005) and female (transferred to the zoo in 2006) birds have been at Hamilton Zoo as part of the Department of Conservation’s Kokako Recovery Programme.

The programme was set up due to the rapidly declining population of this species in the 1980s and 1990s.

The birds will be fitted with radio transmitters tomorrow (Thursday) to allow tracking and will be monitored daily for the first two weeks and then less often to confirm where they settle and when they start nesting.

For Hamilton Zoo Director, Stephen Standley, it has been great to be involved with the recovery programme and even better to see that after more than six years together in the free-flight aviary, the birds are being released.

“For Hamilton Zoo, our purpose is to inspire conservation action so being able to contribute to the secure future of these rare kokako is definitely a highlight of the job.

Being involved in this programme has enabled us to give our visitors a close up look at the precious kokako and from that, hopefully increase their awareness and understanding of the pests and predators that threaten their future.”

The birds will be released into Puketi Forest on Sunday morning. The Puketi Forest Trust has been carrying out pest control in the area since 2003. 5,500 hectares of the forest are managed to control stoats and feral cats and a core area of 650 hectares is also managed for rats and possums. This core area includes the plateau where the last kokako were living, and the Te Tawa catchment around the Waihoanga Gorge Kauri Walk which is also regarded as good kokako habitat.

As part of a sponsorship arrangement for the transport of threatened species, Air New Zealand will fly the birds to Kerikeri for release into Puketi by 10.00am on Sunday morning.


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