A female North Island brown kiwi chick hatched Jan. 12 at the Toledo Zoo. The birth is a first for the zoo’s Avian Breeding Center (ABC), an off-exhibit facility dedicated to breeding rare and endangered birds.
Zoo staff is hand-rearing the chick, which as a precocial species was relatively mature and mobile soon after hatching.
An estimated eight zoos in the U.S. and 17 zoos worldwide exhibit the animals; few zoos outside New Zealand have successfully hatched kiwi. Through an international species survival plan, zoos worldwide are working together to preserve this species, which is endangered with decreasing populations in the wild.
|Toledo Zoo Kiwi
The Columbus Zoo provided the Toledo Zoo with a fertilized egg in December 2012. “This successful hatching is the result of dedicated staff at both zoos working to help an endangered species,” Robert Webster, the Toledo Zoo’s curator of birds, said.
Aviary staff from both zoos worked together throughout the 73-day incubation. Kiwi chicks have the longest incubation period of any bird species, followed by an unusually long hatching process, which often lasts several days (the zoo’s kiwi chick took five days to complete hatching). “We’re proud to welcome this chick to the Toledo Zoo,” Robert Webster said, “and we look forward to introducing this fascinating species to the public.”
Public exhibit details have not been finalized but are expected to be a part of the Wild Walkabout exhibit, scheduled to open on May 24 and feature the animals of Australia and surrounding regions. Rather than being on exhibit full-time, the chick’s role will be as an animal ambassador, inspiring visitors to learn about the threats to survival that so many animal species face worldwide.
Kiwi are nocturnal, flightless birds native to New Zealand. An estimated 28 kiwi live in U.S zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In the wild, kiwi were once widespread in New Zealand, but today populations are isolated and fragmented. According to information from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), wild kiwi populations are estimated between 25,000 and 30,000 birds, with declines of 90 percent or more over the last century.
Some kiwi characteristics seem more mammal-like than bird-like; they have a keen sense of smell (rare among birds), good hearing and whiskery feathers around their face. They are also the only bird with nostrils at the end of their beak, and females lay the largest egg of any bird in the world, in relation to their size.
The Toledo Zoo, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located on the Anthony Wayne Trail (US 25), four miles south of downtown Toledo.
For more information, visit toledozoo.org or call 419-385-4040. Lucas County residents are admitted free of charge each Monday from 10 a.m. to noon. ID showing proof of residency is required.