Born in the USA - a kiwi destined for life in spotlight

01:43, Jan 31 2009
WELCOME, STRANGER: The rare new star of the Washington DC zoo, a North Island brown kiwi.

A fluffy little kiwi has been born, far away from a homeland it will never see.

The rare North Island brown kiwi is the new star of the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC.

Keeper Kathy Brader said the bird, as yet unnamed, hatched late last week. It was behaving differently from Manaia, another kiwi born in 2005, as part of the zoo's captive breeding programme, she said.

"It is extremely busy and active, and was trying to walk and stand on day one. It actually jumped two inches on Sunday morning."

The chick – its sex has yet to be determined by dna testing – is the third hatched there. In 1975 the zoo was host to the first kiwi born outside New Zealand.

The egg was incubated for a month by the chick's father before five weeks' incubation by zoo staff before the hatching.

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In New Zealand the endangered brown kiwi population is estimated at 25,000 and falling.

The Smithsonian kiwi is destined for Internet fame – its every squawk will be monitored by a webcam to be set up at nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ Birds/Kiwi/default.cfm.

Kiwi Recovery Programme coordinator Hugh Robertson welcomed the overseas addition.

About 30 kiwi were kept at zoos overseas, but that number was slowly dwindling.

Kiwi were no longer sent overseas, and those already away from home would not be allowed to return because of biosecurity risks, he said.

The Conservation Department had lent expertise in kiwi care to overseas zoos. "So hopefully that's helped in this case."

The Dominion Post