For Release: April 23, 2008
Sarah Taylor (202) 633-3081
Pamela Baker-Masson (202) 633-3055
More than 45 percent of National Zoo Web site voters selected the name “Koa” for the Zoo’s recently hatched North Island Brown kiwi. Koa, a Maori word meaning “happy and jubilant,” competed with “Titi” (ray of light) and “Hiwa (cheerful, alert) in a three-week-long, online vote. The Maori are the native people of New Zealand--the only place in the world where kiwis are found.
The chick hatched March 7 and is the third chick to hatch at the National Zoo in its 33 years of breeding kiwis. Determining the sex of a kiwi is difficult to do by sight, so National Zoo geneticists used DNA analysis to determine the chick is male. Koa is a fitting name for the bird as keepers have noted that the chick is feisty and active, attempting to walk on his first day and refusing to keep still when they weigh him. He is currently spending his days in a specially designed brooder box filled with shredded mulch, a nesting box, a bowl of water and two small feeding tubes in which he digs for food with his long, narrow beak.
There are five species of kiwi, and all are unique to New Zealand. The North Island brown species of kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand. They are widely thought to be the most ancient bird and have existed in New Zealand for more than 30 million years. Kiwis typically mate for life, and the male incubates the egg. After kiwi chicks hatch, however, they receive no parental care. Unlike other bird species, kiwis hatch fully feathered and equipped with all of the necessary skills they need to survive.
The North Island brown kiwi species is classified as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature. The remaining wild population of the North Island brown kiwi is estimated at roughly 24,000, down from 60,000 in the 1980s.
To read regular updates about the chick’s progress and watch the chick on the Webcam, visit http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Birds/Kiwi/. Since kiwis are nocturnal, the chick is most active in the evening hours.
# # #
Note to Editors: Photos of the chick are available from the Office of Public Affairs.