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First Outing to Swim School for Feisty Whio Ducklings

First Outing to Swim School for Feisty Whio Ducklings

Tomorrow afternoon, Orana Wildlife Park’s six fluffy whio (blue duck) ducklings will have their first outdoor adventure and take to the pool. The fifteen day old ducklings are the first clutch of whio to be reared at Orana in eight years!

Head Keeper of Native Fauna, Alyssa Salton, says: “It is great to be working with whio ducklings again. They are very active little animals and are growing quickly.”

“In captivity, whio eggs are artificially incubated and then reared by staff in preparation for their eventual release to the wild. This is important for a species classified as Nationally Vulnerable by the Department of Conservation with a wild population numbering only 2,000-3,000.”

The parent birds, a young breeding pair, were transferred to Orana in 2010 (following the death of the Park’s previous breeding female in 2009) and have produced fertile eggs for the past two breeding seasons. The eggs were artificially incubated at Peacock Springs (Christchurch) due to staff shortages post-quakes. “We are thrilled to once again be able to incubate and rear these delightful ducklings” adds Alyssa.

The ducklings, which are not on public display, will soon be transferred to Peacock Springs, along with all captive-bred whio ducklings from all over the country. The birds will hone their hunting skills before being released to the wild. “Whio are like white-water rafters as they live in fast-flowing waterways. Essentially the ducklings go to swim school to ensure they can master the rapids in the wild.”

“It is a great time of year for our team. Not only do we have the privilege of working with the whio ducklings, one kiwi chick has hatched (with more expected soon) and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of native pateke (brown teal) ducklings soon” adds Alyssa.

- ENDS -

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