Miami Zoo apologizes for treatment of kiwi bird

The Miami Zoo has apologized after an uproar over the treatment of its kiwi bird.

A video showing a male kiwi bird, Paola, being stroked by a visitor at the zoo’s “touching experience” has surfaced online. The video also showed the nocturnal bird kept in a well-lit enclosure.

The footage sparked outcry among New Zealanders both at home and abroad, alleging that New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi, was being abused.

Paola was the first kiwi to hatch in Florida in 2019.

As people demanded an investigation into the kiwi’s living conditions, Paola’s petition to “help save the kiwi” gathered more than 12,300 signatures in three days.

“Kiwi is our precious taonga, not America’s toy,” the petition, initiated by New Zealander Jesse Christieson, said.

The Miami Zoo apologized for its treatment of Paola on Wednesday and announced that it would be discontinuing the “encounter” experience with Paola with immediate effect.

“First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the Miami Zoo, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the stress caused by videos on social media depicting how to handle and care for our current kiwi bird, Paola. We sincerely apologize. The concerns expressed are taken very seriously and as a result, Kiwi Encounters will no longer be offered immediately,” the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo also announced that plans are underway to build a “special habitat” for the “relatively dark” Paola, where visitors can learn about the unique bird without direct contact. .

The move was made by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. announced Going forward, he plans to “discuss the situation” with the American Zoo Association and the Aquarius Society, thanking viewers for expressing concerns about Paola’s welfare and treatment.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked the Miami Zoo for taking the public’s concerns seriously.

“Zoo [has] “We took immediate steps to address the concerns raised,” Hipkins said, adding, “They said what they were doing wasn’t right, wasn’t right, or wasn’t fair to the Kiwis.” I admit that I was,” he said. Thank you for taking me seriously. ”

The bird is dear to many New Zealanders, who call themselves ‘Kiwi’, a nickname that dates back to World War I.

This small and unique bird is featured on New Zealand stamps and lives in the country. This bird has cultural, historical and spiritual significance to the Maori people. Kiwi feathers are used to make the iconic ‘kahu kiwi’, a traditional feathered cloak worn by tribal chiefs who symbolize the spirit of protection.

There are an estimated 70,000 kiwis left in New Zealand, according to the New Zealand Conservation Agency.

Paola was the first kiwi to hatch in Florida. The bird was part of a breeding program at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo aimed at ensuring the survival of the endangered species. The Miami Zoo said it was “happy to see him grow and thrive” in captivity.

“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,” the zoo said in a statement.

“While I had the honor of hosting New Zealand’s Honorary Ambassador to the United States and several Maori representatives at a special naming ceremony here at the Miami Zoo, I cannot think of what happened to Paola. It’s especially hard for all of us.” What he said here at the Miami Zoo will offend some of New Zealand’s great people. Again, we deeply apologize,” the statement added.

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