Endangered blue ducklings hatch at Hamilton Zoo

The two whio are believed to be one male and one female. Seen here at 22 days old.

The two whio are believed to be one male and one female. Seen here at 22 days old.

For the first time in 17 years, Hamilton Zoo has two endangered blue duck ducklings.

The zoo welcomed the two chicks, also known as whio, on August 24. They are believed to be a male and a female.

The eggs were laid in the whare rere manu and hatched in incubators, Team leader of native and exotic fauna Cheridan Mathers said.

"We are rapt our new breeding pair has got the recipe for success right, whereas previous pairs have not."

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Conditions for whio to thrive are hard to replicate as the species rely on high-quality, stable rivers and stream catchments, preferring to nest in ground level rock crevices near steep stream banks, Mathers added.

"Although this hatching says great things about the environment we've created at Hamilton Zoo, sadly these conditions are not as easy to find in the wild as they used to be."

Whio are classed as endangered with a decreasing population according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

It is estimated there are only 1200 adults left.

The first blue ducks hatched at the zoo back in October, 2000. 

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"Hamilton Zoo staff will care for the chicks until they are strong enough for release into an aviary near Turangi, before full release to the wild," Mathers said.

She said visitors will not be able to see the ducklings before they are released.

"This breeding success shows the work that goes on behind the exhibits at Hamilton Zoo, and zoos like us, as we work hard to conserve and grow native species populations around New Zealand."

 - Stuff


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