Aiding endangered offspring

Kakapo Auckland ZooOne thing zoos are very good at is neonatal care – a critical function when it comes to species conservation. The degree of intervention depends on the species and situation. In some cases, newborns need 24-hour care to ensure their survival. Others simply need a predator-free haven to survive.

Kakapo chick Heather One would never have made it without intensive intervention by a team of dedicated vets and nurses at Auckland Zoo.

The kakapo, one of the rarest and heaviest parrots in the world, is endemic to New Zealand. These flightless, nocturnal birds breed only every three to four years, with breeding depending on fruiting of rimu and other native New Zealand berry-producing trees.

With less than 130 in the world, kakapo are listed as critically endangered. The biggest threat appears to be predation by rats. Of 21 chicks born between 1981 and 1994, nine were likely killed by rats, although it is difficult to rule out the possibility that some of these may have died and subsequently been eaten by rats.

In 1990, a Kakapo recovery program – a partnership between the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), New Zeland Aluminum Smelters and Forest and Bird – was established to ensure the survival of the species. Kakapo were transferred to several islands including Little Barrier Island (Hauturu o Toi), Codfish Island and Anchor Island, in a number of successful translocations. Continue reading Aiding endangered offspring