For the Birds: Meet a Kiwi

Christchurch, New Zealand was all shook up earlier this month during a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the South Island in the early morning. Among the many survivors was a stubborn little kiwi chick who despite a power outage and shaking incubator, still managed to hatch. Keepers at Orana Wildlife Park have appropriately named the kiwi Ruwhenua, which means “shaky ground, or shaking of the land.”

Kiwis are an endangered species (which makes this hatching such a success story) but across New Zealand at wildlife preserves and conservation centers, there are plenty of opportunities to meet this national icon:

Orana Wildlife Park’s Kiwi House (Christchurch) offers kiwi meet-and-greets during feeding hours.

Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park‘s Eco Tour Kiwi Watch lets visitors observe kiwis in their natural setting during a special evening tour. Try to spot the Northern Brown Kiwi as well as the Great Spotted and Little Spotted Kiwi.
Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs (Rotorua). View kiwi conservation up close in the nocturnal house and at the hatchery. Learn more about kiwis at the Kiwi Culture exhibit.


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If you can’t travel to the other side of the globe to visit baby Rūwhenua, the National Zoo in D.C. is more than happy to help make an introduction to one of its cousins.

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11 a.m., visitors to the Bird House’s Bird Resource Center can meet the Zoo’s kiwis at the Meet a Kiwi Keeper Talk. The National Zoo is home to seven kiwis at the Rock Creek campus. Check out the Zoo’s website for the Kiwi Cam, Kiwi news, and more information about the Kiwi Breeding Science Center where two new additions, baby girls Hiri and Squeaky, were born in March and June, respectively.

Save a Kiwi: Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust‘s Operation Nest Egg provide kiwi with a “65% chance of surviving to adulthood – compared to just 5% for wild born and raised chicks.” Visit the website to donate to kiwi conservation and visit their Kiwi Classroom for colorful, kid-friendly resources. 

Photo: Above, A baby kiwi, photographed by My Shot user Shubhashish Dasgupta. Below, Kathleen Brader, Senior Bird Keeper at the National Zoo and Species Survival Plan coordinator for kiwis outside of New Zealand holds one of the Zoo’s kiwi. Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park