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Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape saves chick


Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape saves chick

Rotorua, 18 October 2016: Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life.

The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched.

Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Husbandry Manager Claire Travers says, "The shell was broken through to the egg's internal membrane splitting it so the membrane had collapsed on top of the chick, which is very dangerous."

After cleaning up the egg and removing the broken shell pieces Claire carefully placed the shell of another egg over the hole using masking tape to hold it in place.

"The shell is a vital structure as it maintains the correct moisture of the membrane, absorbing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, without it the egg is in danger of losing too much moisture."

"To be honest I didn't think the chick had any chance of surviving because the hole in the shell was so big, I was absolutely over the moon when it hatched. It really gave me a thrill that against all odds we had saved one of our iconic Kiwi chicks."

Saving the chick is a credit to the Kiwi Encounter team who against all odds pooled their expertise and experience to come up with a solution to help save the chick. After 11 days of careful monitoring they were all very happy to see the chick emerge.

"The hatch itself was amazing with the part of the shell that was taped onto the egg actually mimicking the original shell and cracking in unison as if it was part of the existing egg," Claire says.

The 2016/17 hatch season is well under way, 41 chicks have hatched at Kiwi Encounter with a further 20 in incubation. This chick is from Paraninihi, which is a Māori Trust Block in North Taranaki near the coast, and has been named Fissure, referring to the crack in its egg shell.

Rainbow Springs' involvement in kiwi conservation began in 1995 with the arrival of its first egg and the hatchery has grown over the years to become the largest kiwi hatching facility in New Zealand, successfully incubating and hatching brown kiwi eggs from around the North Island.

Kiwi Encounter's role in kiwi conservation is vital. Most kiwi chicks don't survive in the wild due to predators such as stoats, so staff from DOC (Department of Conservation) and independent kiwi organisations, lift the partially incubated eggs from their burrows and deliver them to Kiwi Encounter to incubate and hatch. Kiwi eggs take approximately 78 days to incubate, and slightly longer in the wild.

After hatching, the chicks are raised to a ‘stoat-proof’ weight of 1kg before being released back into the wild.

Kiwi Encounter also plays an important part in helping with kiwi research. The team is currently looking into making improvements to the artificial kiwi diet, lighting in nocturnal enclosures, the role of bacteria in egg shell contamination and coccidia (gut parasites) treatment trials.

To donate, or sponsor a kiwi, visit

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