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New Zealand Upset Over Miami Zoo’s Meet-a-Kiwi Program


File photo of kiwis, millions of which roamed before western settlers arrived on New Zealand shores.

New Zealand’s prime minister on Wednesday joined a chorus of kiwi residents complaining about the treatment of their national bird by a zoo in Miami.

New Zealanders have been horrified by the revelation that Miami Zoo allowed visitors to raise a shy nocturnal animal under harsh lights.

Zoo Miami issued an apology on Tuesday and said it was canceling the interactive kiwi pet experience, but not before videos of a kiwi named Paura went viral.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hepkins said: “The zoo immediately took steps to address the concerns that were raised.”

“They acknowledged that what they were doing was not appropriate, was not right, or was not fair to the Kiwis,” he added. “I thank them for taking it seriously.”

Millions of kiwis used to roam before western settlers arrived on New Zealand’s shores, with now only about 70,000 left in the wild.

The Zoo Miami bird is just one of about 60 kiwis currently found outside New Zealand, according to the Department of Conservation.

The kiwi is part of Maori mythology in New Zealand, where the treatment of pauora was strongly condemned.

“It’s very clear your team (at Zoo Miami) is ill-equipped and has no idea how to take care of this national treasure. Get back right away, Paura,” someone tweeted.

Another user wrote: “Sell kiwi toys if you want a fundraiser! This is unethical and cruel.”

Zoo Miami said in a statement that “the concerns expressed were taken very seriously.”

Effective immediately, the Kiwi encounter will not be offered, the zoo added.

“It is particularly painful for all of us to think that anything that happened with Paura…would be offensive to any of the wonderful people of New Zealand.”

The zoo said it plans to build a “special habitat” for Paura so it can teach visitors about the “amazing kiwi” without face-to-face contact.

Miami Zoo hatched the bird, named after the Mwari iwi chief and ecologist Paura Haitana.

Haitana told Radio New Zealand that he was “very concerned” to hear about the treatment of his name.

“It’s our signature, we’re known as kiwis, so it goes against everything the bird was given to them for,” added Haitana.

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation said it would contact Zoo Miami “to share our experience and high standards of respectful care for kiwis.”

A spokesperson added that they also plan to raise the matter with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which Zoo Miami is a member.

© 2023 AFP

the quote: Scheme of kiwi encounter at Miami Zoo ruffles feathers in New Zealand (2023, May 24) Retrieved May 24, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-miami-zoo-meet-a-kiwi-scheme -ruffles. html

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