New Zealand Embassy Washington, United States of America

Ambassador names Washington zoo’s first female kiwi chick

Hiri. Photo / Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian National Zoo

Kiwi are an endangered bird native to New Zealand.

To mark the historic hatching, keepers bestowed the honor of naming the chick upon a fellow ‘Kiwi’ - New Zealand Ambassador to the United States HE Roy Ferguson. 

Ambassador Ferguson named the chick Hiri (pronounced “HEE-ree”), which means “important and great” in Māori, New Zealand’s official indigenous language. 

This hatching is a significant milestone, not only for the zoo but also for kiwi populations worldwide.

Hiri is a brown kiwi, which is a breed of kiwi considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Only 12 female brown kiwi currently live in zoos outside of New Zealand.

The New Zealand Ambassador has dedicated much time supporting the Smithsonian National Zoo’s kiwi programs during his four-year tenure in the United States.

“I whole-heartedly support the Smithsonian Zoo’s kiwi conservation efforts,” the Ambassador said following Hiri’s arrival.

“They do a fantastic job.”

Three kiwi have hatched since the zoo’s kiwi program ‘Kiwi Species Survival Plan’ began in February 2006.

The fact that Hiri is female is considered a major coup for the program.

Although Hiri is too young to be transferred to the zoo’s Bird House, the public can watch her development via Kiwi Cam.  

The National Zoo is one of only three zoos in the United States that exhibits brown kiwi.

It was also the first zoo outside of New Zealand to ever have a successful hatching of a kiwi. More photos of Hiri can be found on the zoo's Flicker page.

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