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Kiwi Chick Given Helping Hand to Hatch

Orana Wildlife Park MEDIA RELEASE

8 August, 2014

Kiwi Chick Given Helping Hand to Hatch

The native bird breeding season is underway early at Orana Wildlife Park. The first animal to hatch was a delightful kiwi chick.

Alyssa Salton, Head Keeper of Native Fauna, says: “We are delighted that a healthy chick has arrived so early in the season. In fact all three of our kiwi breeding pairs have produced eggs though two were infertile. We are confident that the early season start will be a positive indicator for the rest of the year.”

The eight day old kiwi required the assistance of Park staff as it was malpositioned in the egg and unable to hatch on its own. “We x-rayed the egg to determine the bill position and then created a small hole through which the chick could get its bill to breathe. Keepers created strategic cracks in the shell and the chick successfully popped out. The chick has now moved to a brooder (not on public display) and is progressing well.

Kiwi chicks are one of the cutest baby birds and this fluffy youngster is a really cool wee animal. It is a real privilege to be working with these animals”.

Orana Wildlife Park is involved in the captive component of the Recovery Programme for kiwi. Chicks produced may be transferred to other captive institutions, remain at Orana or be released to the wild, depending on the requirements of the managed programme. One key role is conservation advocacy, educating visitors on the plight of these unique birds. “The main message we convey to people is to keep their dogs on a leash when near wild kiwi areas” concludes Alyssa.

About kiwi
•Kiwi are fascinating birds and are unique to New Zealand. They are flightless as well as nocturnal and have nostrils at the tip of the beak which helps them sniff out food and probe for insects.
•Kiwi eggs are proportionately one of the largest of any bird and can weigh between one quarter to one sixth of the female’s body weight! (or averages 15%) The male incubates the eggs for 72–85 days.
•Kiwi can live for over 30 years and in the wild pairs may mate for life.
•Like most of New Zealand’s native fauna, kiwi are under constant threat, especially from introduced mammals including stoats, weasels, ferrets, cats and dogs, as well as from habitat loss. While adult kiwi are capable of defending themselves from everything except dogs, kiwi eggs and chicks are particularly vulnerable.
•Kiwi are related to the ostrich of Africa and the emu of Australia.
•There are five kiwi species (and a number of different taxa within those species), all of which are threatened to varying degrees: Brown; Rowi; Tokoeka; Great Spotted and Little Spotted Kiwi.
•If people are visiting suspected kiwi habitat we urge them to leave their dog at home, or keep it on a leash at all times. If land owner’s have property bordering bush land, we hope people will become aware that kiwi frequently forage at the bush margin and pastures. In this situation, it is best to keep dogs contained at night. All of these measures will help conserve kiwi.

About Orana Wildlife Park
Orana Wildlife Park is NZ’s only open range zoo and is home to over 400 animals from more than 70 different species. The Park is owned and operated by Orana Wildlife Trust, a registered charitable trust. The Trust is committed to the conservation of wildlife diversity on this planet. Our aims, along with being dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and the welfare of our animals, are to provide education, recreation and enjoyment to the public and to support research relating to endangered animals. The Trust is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) and ZAA NZ.

- ENDS -

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