Kiwi chick a 'miracle' hatch for Queenstown
The first kiwi chick born at Queenstown's Kiwi Birdlife Park this year is being hailed as a miracle birth.
Kiwi Birdlife Park manager Paul Kavanagh said the "tough" hatch was the equivalent of a breach birth for humans.
One of the membranes in the egg collapsed and the bird's leg was mispositioned, suffocating the unborn kiwi.
Staff could see the difficulties by holding the egg under light and decided to take action before the chick hatched on its own.
"We had to really carefully open up the shell to remove the membrane and then, using an old egg that we'd sterilised, we patched the egg back up," Kavanagh said.
The chick would not have successfully hatched in the wild, he said.
Because it had a leg over its head it could not push the egg to open.
Kavanagh said it would have been a "really risky" procedure if the chick was not fully developed.
After its January 18 birth the tiny kiwi walking asymmetrically for the first two days.
However, three weeks later chick was healthy and recovering well, Kavanagh said.
It was still not known if it was female or male.
"We keep saying it's a he, but are actually hoping for a female because the captive breeding program needs more females," he said.
In a "nice coincidence" the chick hatched on the anniversary of the death of Noeleen Wilson, one of the funders of the Kiwi Birdlife Park, Kavanagh added.
An official naming ceremony will be held later this year, and Millbrook Resort had naming rights.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has welcomed plans by the Kiwis for Kiwi Trust to boost the number of kiwi chicks captured in the wild for later release in to predator free habitats.
Wild kiwi numbers currently sit just below 70,000.
At special sites the chicks will be raised to 1kg before relocation into predator-controlled areas with a few or no kiwi birds.
"In areas where we have been able to manage kiwi we have achieved a two per cent population growth.
"The hard work of Department of Conservation and community organisations such as Kiwis for Kiwi, is having a real impact," Baggy said.
Kavanagh said the governmental program would not have a direct effect on the Kiwi Birdlife Park as they were funded by visitors.
"The more people we get through the more we can do," he said.