Miami Zoo apologizes for treatment of kiwi bird, outrages New Zealand

A Florida zoo has issued a “deep and sincere apology” after its treatment of one of its national birds has angered thousands of New Zealanders.

The Miami Zoo said that “concerns expressed” about a kiwi named Paola were “extremely high” after the bird was shown on social media earlier this week being taken out of its enclosure and being petted. was taken seriously by the

The footage also showed the nocturnal creature entering the crate in search of a dark environment, but someone lifted the lid to expose it to a bright audience.

Within hours of the video’s release, an online petition complaining of his treatment had garnered thousands of signatures, with comments from New Zealand’s Prime Minister and the Department of Conservation.

Paola was “handled by dozens of strangers, stroked her sensitive beard, laughed at and shown like a toy,” said Jesse Christieson, who launched the petition. writing.

“Kiwi is a nocturnal animal, so it should be kept in a proper dark enclosure and kept with minimal handling. He is incapable of natural behavior,” she said.

Christison, from the city of Hamilton on New Zealand’s North Island, added: “I hope this petition reaches out to those who have the power to initiate an investigation into his condition and move him to a more suitable environment.” .

Her statement echoed advice given in a kiwi best practices manual published by the Conservation Service, which called for “predominantly nocturnal” birds to be kept out of their burrows “only for people to see and touch.” It should not be removed,” he warned. This is because it does not protect the ribcage and surrounding vital organs.

Several people who signed Christison’s petition also expressed their anger at Paola’s treatment. One described his treatment as “disgraceful” and “horrible”.

Others took to Twitter to complain, including wildlife photographer Holly Neal. He wrote that his treatment was “infuriating”.

“I’m very upset about this, because it’s a nocturnal species, but it’s awake during the day,” she says.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was asked on Tuesday about his treatment of Paola, saying his compatriots “show great pride in our national bird when abroad and take action when they see kiwis being mistreated”. He told reporters he thinks it shows

“We will be discussing the situation with the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums to address some of the facility’s concerns and address the concerns raised,” the agency said in a Twitter post.

In a statement, the Miami Zoo “deeply and sincerely apologizes for the stress caused by videos on social media depicting how to care for and care for Paola, our current kiwi bird.” said.

It added that the “Kiwi Encounter,” which gave visitors the chance to pet a kiwi for $25, “is no longer offered.”

“Paola grew up at the Miami Zoo receiving the best possible care, but in retrospect, the development of Kiwi Encounter is a key part of the national symbolism of this iconic animal and the way it has become a part of the people of New Zealand. “It wasn’t thought through enough in terms of what it represented, especially Maori.”

“Plans are currently underway to build a special habitat that will continue to provide him with the shelter he needs while respecting and supporting his natural instincts,” it added. “It will be developed in a way that allows us to teach our guests about the wonderful kiwi without direct contact with the general public.”

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