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“McCaw”- the very first kiwi chick to hatch this kiwi season

The West Coast Wildlife Centre welcomes “McCaw”- the very first kiwi chick to hatch this kiwi breeding season!

The hatching season for the world’s rarest kiwi has started in the South Island with the arrival of the first rowi chick successfully hatched at the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef early this morning.

Weighing in at just 322gms “McCaw” has been aptly named by the team to let Ritchie and all our team of All Blacks know over in the UK that every “young kiwi” back here in New Zealand is cheering them on.

Rowi are the rarest kiwi in the world with less than 500 birds left alive in the wild and found only in the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary near Franz Josef, South Westland.

“McCaw” took 6 ½ days to hatch and will now be spending this week getting to know his incubator before moving into a personalized brooder for another 3 weeks period before getting ready to face life in a predator free location.

“It has been a really exciting start to the hatching season” says Kiwi Husbandry Manager Kim Bryan-Walker “with 26 eggs already incubating at the moment and we are expecting to successfully hatch up to 90 chicks this season alone!"

The West Coast Wildlife Centre is the South Island’s largest kiwi hatching facility and open to the general public from 8.30am daily.

It has won the West Coast Leading Lights Awards and has been judged by Lonely Planet as one of its top 12 favorite new places to visit in New Zealand.

Here visitors can go “behind the scenes” to see for themselves the kiwi hatching and rearing facilities, meet the dedicated team of kiwi rangers and see the world’s rarest kiwi’s up close in the nocturnal house and bush walkway.

Every week until the end of January kiwi eggs are delivered to the Wildlife Centre by The Department of Conservation as the team gears up for its busiest season ever.

The West Coast Wildlife Centre, based in Franz Josef, is the official hatching and rearing programme for the world’s two rarest kiwi – the Rowi and Haast tokoeka - and is a very successful public/private partnership with the Department of Conservation.

The attraction is regularly upgrading the incubation and rearing facilities and has introduced a kiwi “hospital” for kiwi that are sick or injured and that are brought in from the wild.

“We now have one of the most modern and up to date kiwi hatching facilities in New Zealand” says Director and Owner Richard Benton.

The brooder room - where the chicks are moved into during their first month of age - has more than doubled in size and can now hold a maximum of 30 chicks at any one time.

The Egg Processing Room -where eggs are checked and cleaned on arrival from the wild (and the Kiwi Kitchen) has both been upgraded - to increase hygiene standards, which are of the utmost importance in the captive rearing facility.

Since first opening in November 2010, the West Coast Wildlife Centre has hatched a total of 246 kiwi chicks - in partnership with the Department of Conservation and “Kiwis for Kiwi” – The Kiwi Trust.

This involves removing eggs from the risk of predation in the wild, hatching them in captivity, and placing the chicks in a predator free environment until they are big enough to defend themselves.

· Numerous businesses, local dedicated people and visitors to New Zealand have proudly supported the West Coast Wildlife Centre’s kiwi sponsorship program, which helps the West Coast Wildlife Centre to fund purchasing kiwi food, incubation and brooder room equipment, veterinary products and build new facilities.

“We really value the support we get for our hatching facility from the West Coast community and beyond” says General Manager Lisa Stevenson, and “we encourage any visitors to Franz Josef to drop in and see for themselves this really exciting kiwi facility on the West Coast."

· The West Coast Wildlife Centre is based in Franz Josef where the wor ld’s rarest kiwi – the Rowi – lives in forests within close pr oximity. The facility was developed in late 2010 as public-pr ivate par tner ship between the Depar tment of Conservation and a pr ivate investor – Richard Benton - at a cost of over $2.5m.

Inside the all weather facility you can see live kiwi, west-coast stor ytelling, interactive glacier displays as well as a enjoying a café and a NZ gift shop with free Wi-Fi.

It costs $35 for a 24hr pass to visit the all weather / indoor West Coast Wildlife Centre and a ticket that includes the “backstage tour of the hatching and brooding facilities” is just $55. Bookings are recommended to avoid disappointment, as demand is high at cer tain times of the year .

The West Coast Wildlife Centre, and its team, is fully committed to saving the kiwi and pr otecting and preser ving New Zealand native wildlife.


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