June 20, 2013
Kia Ora, where does the time fly? So let's get right down to it. So far, we don’t have any kiwi chicks from Nessus and Maori this season. We did have a fertile egg but it died. Kiwi have a natural 50 percent egg failure rate. but it is still disappointing. The good news is that Nessus is either getting chubby or getting ready to lay a late-season egg! Time will tell.
I can tell you that she is extremely grumpy, so we all try to placate her which is not easy. Earlier this year I made the mistake of trying to check on the pair fairly early in the morning (still somewhat dark) when Maori was in a box and Nessus wasn't in any of the three boxes. The last box I checked was one the in the shed (where they typically incubate their eggs). As I was turning around to leave the shed, Nessus charged up to the door and wasn't in the mood to let me leave! She followed me all the way to the exit, kicking me and hissing. I had to reach down and gently nudge her back so I could leave. That cured me of checking on them before the sun is up! As both Maori and I both know, Nessus is known as "she who must be obeyed".
Koa has come a long way in performing his ambassadorial duties. A year ago, I wouldn't have believed how well he has done. Now he actually lets me scratch his head, and most days he lasts longer than the usual 15 minutes for the kiwi demo. We have lowered the age of children to six and older, but still try to keep the number of folks to about 15. Though a couple of times we have allowed 20 folks in. Koa does depend on his keeper, so as long as he knows his handler he is generally calm, completely different from Manaia who was very laid back and went along for the ride so to speak. He still has some days (rarely) that after about 10 minutes he has had enough, but overall he is doing a fantastic job.
Pip has decided he doesn't really like the demo box. After eating all the worms he can cram down in a few minutes he wants out! He starts jumping up and down (you can almost hear him yelling “Let me out!”). He has done several kiwi meet-and–greets, and he will eat food from anyone but is somewhat shy. He really likes to snuggle up, so we are keeping the groups very small and no small children at this point. He just turned a year old, so time will tell if he decides whether he will continue on or if going into a breeding program will be his destiny. Right now we just enjoying his being a teenager.
Omana has left us to go to the Berlin Zoo in March. She went through international quarantine very well. I was concerned, as she seemed so docile. But she was eating right away. Omana is already living with her new mate (though it will be at least a year or two before they breed). Though they have two boxes for sleeping they are found most often than not sleeping together. Berlin Zoo has sent us a picture of Omana and Manu (which means “bird” in Maori). This is also a picture of her new outside enclosure. Omana is on the right and Manu on the left, she does have some growing to do but the Berlin Staff is thrilled with our gentle girl.
Toru our on-exhibit bird continues to do well. This year he turned 38 years old, and is feisty as ever. Lately he has taken to hiding behind some plants and waiting to sneak up on the keepers as they are cleaning and giving them a good scare. It keeps us on our toes!
Out at SCBI Front Royal, the kiwi chick that they hatched out from the Columbus Zoo's pair turned out to be a girl. Her name is Manawa Ora (which means “hope and breath of life.”) She continues to thrive, for which we are all pleased. Her mother Gruen died after a long illness a few months ago. Columbus Zoo gave Gruen superb health care but unfortunately she succumbed. We believe that somehow Gruen got something up her nares last fall, and they had treated her for months. They even had CT scan done on her. They finally performed surgery which she handled well, but died soon after. All I can say is that Gruen received the best medical care possible, but bill injuries are the worst for kiwi and always spell trouble. I will always be grateful to Columbus Zoo for their generous support of the kiwi program and their willingness to send out kiwi eggs to other zoos.
This coming fall is when I will do another Kiwi Breeding and Transfer Plan for the North American and European zoos. I do not expect major changes in our zoo or SCBI, but I won’t know for sure until I plug in the "numbers" into the management program (this is a great program that calculates genetic matches for us). One of the great benefits of this program it allows us to see into the future." By putting together different birds and projecting offspring (we hope) we can take a look at what the future population genetics will look like. But of course you can make all the "dates" you want, but other considerations always come into play. Not least of all are the kiwi themselves, who do not always read the plan and play along with it!