February 12, 2013
Gosh, it has been too long since I have updated all you of kiwi fans! My only excuse is that time seems to have sped right by and have been busy. So let’s get right to it, First off the entire kiwi population, both here at the Zoo and at SCBI Front Ronal, is doing very well.
The Meet a Kiwi program with Koa as the upcoming star has been running since September. I am so pleased with how Koa is doing! We started with small groups and no children under the age of 12 for the first few months, but he has done so well we are now doing larger groups and dropped the age to over six. I hope by summer, we will have no age restrictions but we will judge that on Koa handles the new larger groups. I am very pleased with how Koa is doing! He is now staying over 1.1 kilograms and seems to be enjoying his time in the viewing box (as long as he gets worms, and a few head rubs doesn’t go wrong either). So if any of you are in the neighborhood please stop and say hello to Koa!
Pip’s training is coming along and he has done some of the Meet a Kiwi days when we have had only a couple of folks show (usually due to bad weather), but he has a much shorter attention span. Pip still enjoys a few hand feedings in the morning and head rubs. It’s hard to believe he is fast approaching a year old!
His older sister Omana will soon be leaving for her new home at the Berlin Zoo. An international shipment is not only filled with a lot of paperwork and vet exams, but it’s also working out the shipping crates, and the best way to fly! Since there are no direct flights from the DC area to Berlin, she will first make her way to New York City and then fly directly to Berlin. The Berlin folks are very excited to welcome Omana to their kiwi family where there is a male there waiting for her to grow up. Speaking of growing up, I heard from the zoo that has Hiri and she is doing very well and fast approaching maturity. From what the zookeepers said it sounds like Hiri is a lot like her mom, meaning she is pretty dominant; good for her!
We hope our Zoo family is about to grow, as Maori is sitting on an egg, which we will check at the end of this month. Fingers crossed that we will be having another kiwi chick around springtime!
SCBI Front Royal is also getting busy! They welcomed another kiwi egg from the Columbus Zoo in January and hatched at 68 days (earliest for a Columbus egg: the previous eggs have all been around 78 days incubation). I don’t know the sex yet, but this one is a real cutie and very active.
The young male that hatched out at SCBI Front Royal last year, named Pokey (that was the first thing they saw was his bill poking out of the shell and the name stuck), will be heading to the Netherlands this spring for future pairing with a female already at the zoo. Pokey has quite the feisty temperament and will be a match for any female!
Our whole kiwi family has grown with another new zoo coming on board. The Toledo Zoo in Ohio also took a kiwi egg from the Columbus Zoo around the holidays and hatched a kiwi on January 11! It’s a girl. They are working on a naming this new addition and the staff there are all very excited about working with kiwi. This female will be staying there and in the future she will be joined by a male that will suitable for her to breed with. Welcome aboard Toledo Zoo!
This past September also saw the Zoo’s director, Dennis Kelly at the Auckland Zoo to present the kiwi feathers that were collected from all the kiwi zoos outside of New Zealand. This was the second installment of feathers back to New Zealand. The first one in 2011 was a lower-key event and was a dress rehearsal to ensure that all the protocols were in place. This will happen every year as way to give back to New Zealand. The feathers are considered a Taonga (treasure) and thereby sacred. The feathers will used by traditional Maori weavers to repair kiwi feather cloaks or in new projects. The project has been a huge success and I can never thank all the folks who helped make this possible, not the least of them are all the keepers who pick up all those small delicate feathers!
On an ending note, I would like to express my gratitude (and frankly surprise) by the honor the government of New Zealand awarded me this past New Year’s Day. On New Year’s Day (and the Queen’s Birthday) the government hands out honors to various people they feel have contributed to the welfare of their country. I was included this past New Year’s Day honors list by receiving a Honorary Member of the Order of Merit. I feel deeply privileged and frankly still a bit stunned by this inclusion. All I wanted to do was to help out kiwi both here and everywhere; this award was something I never expected even in my wildest dreams. So, thank you New Zealand! I hope to continue my work that will both honor this and kiwi.