The 12 “blues” on display while we visited are thriving, so much so that they are successfully reproducing. This is a good thing, since they are an endangered species, but this fecundity is also producing a problem for the Center and DOC—what to do with the chicks when they mature since they will be normal and healthy birds? Can they be relocated to a safe and secure location? Will they be accepted by a colony already established? Will they know how to feed themselves and survive the threats in their environment such as predatory seals and orcas? That question is still being pondered by the scientists at DOC and other penguin experts being consulted around the world. In the meantime, the captive birds continue nesting and fledging their chicks! What to do? Willowbank Kiwi Breeding Program Another wildlife adventure awaited us in Christchurch: a visit to a zoo which includes a DOC- supported kiwi breeding facility—this was Willowbank Wildlife Park. The facility also exhibited both native creatures (keas (native parrot), pukekos (like our purple gallinules) rakariri (New Zealand parakeet), white faced-herons, enormous eels and blue ducks. The zoo section also included non-native animals like ostriches, monkeys, and other typical zoo denizens around the world. However, the special part of the facility is the kiwi breeding building. We saw brown kiwis the day we visited but they house other species as well. The building contains a roommade dark during the day so that visitors can see the kiwis foraging in the leaf litter and carrying on their usual nocturnal activities. That was very neat to observe. The kiwi nostril is at the tip of the beak and they poke and prod the ground with that appendage rather like an old gentleman planting his walking stick ahead of him. With their hairy looking feathers and rounded body on skinny legs, kiwi are cute birds. It is easy to see why New Zealand adopted this fellow as their national symbol.
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