A diplomatic incident almost ensued
New Zealand’s prime minister today joined those of many of his countrymen who are outraged at Zoo Miami’s treatment of their country’s iconic bird, the kiwi.
The kiwi is a unique bird, one of the oldest in the world, found only in New Zealand and unable to fly.
A zoo in the southeastern US publicly apologized Tuesday for holding sessions during which visitors could pet under bright lights a kiwi, Paora, a nocturnal and shy bird with a long, slender beak. .
“The Zoo (took) immediate action to respond to the fears expressed to it,” New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said today.
“Those in charge recognized that what they were doing was not sufficient, it was not fair and it was not right for Kiwi,” he added, thanking them for taking the issue seriously.
The garden managers have also committed to create for Paora “a special habitat” that will allow visitors to discover this bird without coming into contact with it.
Zoo Miami’s kiwi is one of 60 of its kind living outside New Zealand, according to the Department of Conservation, which is responsible for protecting the country’s natural and historic heritage.
Only about 70,000 kiwi live in the wild in New Zealand, where millions lived before the arrival in the 13th century of Polynesian peoples and then Europeans.
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