New Zealand Embassy Washington, United States of America

Pair of kiwi presented to Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Photo / SCBI

Two New Zealand kiwi were officially handed over to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in a ceremony at the facility in Front Royal, Virginia.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo will be using its new kiwi pair at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to establish a breeding science center.

At the handover ceremony, John Mataira, Consul General for the New Zealand Consulate in Los Angeles, blessed the birds in the Maori tradition.

Kathleen Brader, senior bird keeper at the National Zoo and Species Survival Plan coordinator for kiwis outside of New Zealand; Geoff Reynolds, SCBI bird keeper; and Warren Lynch, SCBI bird unit manager, accepted the pair on behalf of the SMithsonian National Zoo.

The male kiwi’s name is Tamatahi, which means first-born son, and the female is Hinetu, which means proud woman.

Adding these animals to the genetic pool in North America is a rare and valuable opportunity.

This pair came with another pair that will continue on to Germany and one bird that went to the San Diego Zoo.

When these birds pass away, they will be sent back to the tribe for burial.

Kiwis are native to New Zealand and have been there for more than 60 million years, making them New Zealand’s most ancient bird.

Brown kiwi are nocturnal, ground-dwelling, flightless birds whose adaptations more similarly resemble mammals than birds.

They have specialized feathers around their face that look like whiskers, a keen sense of smell, good hearing and are the only bird with nostrils at the end of their beak.

In addition, brown kiwi lay the largest eggs of all birds in relation to their body size.

Earlier this year, two female chicks hatched at the National Zoo in Washington D.C, marking the first time female kiwis hatched at the Zoo.

Currently there are only 16 female brown kiwi in zoos outside New Zealand, including nine in the United States.

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