20 years of raising chicks!
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It's finally here! The milestone 1,500th kiwi chick has just hatched at Rainbow Springs' Kiwi Encounter.
Tipping the scales at 305.5 gms and from Tongariro National Park, the as yet nameless chick has no idea what all the fuss is about and is quite happily practising walking, using its bill to poke about and cuddling up inside the cosy incubator.
The chick marks a significant achievement in kiwi conservation by the Kiwi Encounter team. Its invaluable work is operated by a trust funded with donations from Ngai Tahu Tourism, sponsors and the public.
Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter Kiwi Husbandry Specialiast Emma Bean says, "We're ecstatic to welcome the 1,500th chick. While all our chicks are special this is an extra special arrival, marking a significant milestone in the efforts to help preserve our national icon."
"Our 1500th kiwi is an extremely bright, alert and energetic wee chick. He or she must have been in a real hurry to hatch for Christmas because the active hatch only took around 1½ minutes which is very, very fast indeed," Emma says.
"Normally this can take up to 2-3hours. And the chick also took only 4 days from becoming ‘internally pipped’ to hatching – a process that normally takes 5-6 days for a kiwi.
"The 1,500th chick is from Tongariro National Park – which is a nice way of celebrating this milestone, because the very first kiwi we ever hatched at Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter nearly 20 years ago was also from Tongariro."
Emma has been involved in more than 1,000 hatches at Rainbow Springs' Kiwi Encounter and says that this particular one is her favourite. "Not only because this little chick is our 1,500th but because of how fast, active and lively the hatch was."
Rainbow Springs' involvement in kiwi conservation began in 1995 with the arrival of its first egg and the hatchery has grown over the years to become the largest kiwi hatching facility in New Zealand, successfully incubating and hatching brown kiwi eggs from around the North Island.
Kiwi Encounter's role in kiwi conservation is vital. Most kiwi chicks don't survive in the wild due to predators such as stoats, so DOC (Department of Conservation) staff lift the partially incubated eggs from their burrows and deliver them to Kiwi Encounter to incubate and hatch. Kiwi eggs take approximately 78 days to incubate, and slightly longer in the wild.
After hatching, the chicks are raised to a ‘stoat-proof’ weight of 1kg before being released back into the wild.
Kiwi Encounter also plays an important part in helping with kiwi research. The team is currently looking into making improvements to the artificial kiwi diet, lighting in nocturnal enclosures, the role of bacteria in egg shell contamination and coccidia (gut parasites) treatment trials.
Facts about the egg
To donate, or sponsor a kiwi, visit http://www.rainbowsprings.co.nz/donate