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First kiwi chick of the season hatches

It’s arrived! The first kiwi chick of the season has hatched at Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, New Zealand’s largest hatchery for brown kiwi.

First kiwi chick of the season hatches

Tuatahi – meaning first in Maori – hatched yesterday.

Dad Para sat on the egg for 59 days in the Maungataniwha Forest in the Hawkes Bay before the egg was lifted and delivered to Kiwi Encounter, where the team incubated the egg through to hatch.

Claire Travers, Kiwi Encounter Husbandry Manager says, “After 78 days of incubation the chick was so keen to hatch that he/she kicked its hocks out of the rear end of the shell.  Unlike other birds, kiwi chicks don’t have an egg tooth to chip their way out of the egg, instead they rely on pushing their way out with their strong leg and neck muscles.  So this chick needed a bit of assistance to hatch.

“One of the keepers taped a pad over the hocks for the chick to push against, and after a few more pushes it hatched, weighing a healthy 375g.”

There are 11 eggs in incubation at Kiwi Encounter coming from all over the North Island – as far afield as Taranaki, Tongariro and Waimarino, to the East Coast and the Coromandel.  Plus there are more due over the next few days, including four more eggs on their way from Maungataniwha this afternoon.  One of the eggs already in incubation is close to hatching, with the rest a week or so away from emerging.

Rainbow Springs plays a crucial role in kiwi conservation and breeding as New Zealand’s largest and most successful kiwi hatching centre – raising kiwi chicks to a ‘stoat-proof’ weight of 1kg before releasing them into the wild. Rainbow Springs has hatched and nurtured over 1300 eggs since 1995 when it first became involved in the ‘Save the Kiwi’ recovery programme.

The National Kiwi Trust aims “to maintain and where possible enhance the current abundance, distribution and genetic diversity of kiwi.”

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