The Miami Zoo (United States) issued a public apology on Tuesday after organizing sessions during which visitors could stroke a kiwi named Paora under strong light, while this bird with a long thin beak is a nocturnal animal and shy. On Wednesday, the New Zealand Prime Minister joined his voice to those of many of his furious compatriots at the fate reserved for this emblematic bird of their country.
“The zoo (has taken) immediate action to address the concerns that have been raised,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday. Its officials “recognized that what they were doing was not adequate or was not fair or not correct towards the kiwi”, he added, thanking them for taking this issue “seriously”.
“A special habitat” for Paora
The Miami Zoo kiwi is one of 60 individuals of its species living outside New Zealand, according to the Department of Conservation, which is responsible for preserving the natural and historical heritage of this Pacific country. Only some 70,000 kiwis remain in the wild on New Zealand territory, which was home to millions before the arrival of Polynesian populations in the 13th century, then of Europeans.
The Department of Conservation said it would contact the zoo to “share (the) expertise” from New Zealand on suitable treatments for kiwis in captivity. The establishment has promised to build for Paora “a special habitat” that will allow visitors to discover this bird without coming into contact with it.