Zoo Miami apologizes to New Zealand for mistreating a kiwi

Zoo Miami apologizes to New Zealand for mistreating a kiwi

The kiwi (the bird, not the fruit) is the size of a hen, with a round back, no tail (doesn’t fly, by the way), brownish gray plumage, very long pale bill, very fine. It is, above all, since 1905, New Zealand’s national emblem, which does not mess with symbols. Kiwis “are at the heart of Maori myth”. They are robust, resilient, adaptable, so many values ​​that we associate with New Zealanders. They are only found on the archipelago (they even gave their name to the inhabitants), but it is an endangered and protected species. Most locals have never seen a single one in the wild.

“Meeting a Kiwi”

4-year-old Paora was born and lives at Miami Zoo in the US (but, like pandas with China, he remains New Zealand’s property). You should know that the kiwi diaspora is not very large: only 60 individuals live in captivity in the world. To bring in some cash, the zoo, which had celebrated his birth with great fanfare, had the bright idea of ​​arranging VIP sessions with Paora.

“Meeting a Kiwi”: $23 to handle it, stroke its head, tickle its whiskers (because yes, the kiwi has whiskers too) or feed it… all under the very bright light of a projector to hold him awake: perfect for selfies on Insta but not great for Kiwis, volatile nocturnal and not frankly sociable.

As a result, we came close to a diplomatic crisis: as soon as they saw the pictures, the New Zealanders became angry. They launched a petition, organized an email campaign of complaints to the zoo, raised the alarm to the Ministry of Conservation, which went there with its comment. Others have even called on the Prime Minister to raise the matter with the US ambassador in Wellington.

“It was frankly indefensible”

Within 24 hours the zoo retracted, wrote a long apology to one of the complainants and its spokesperson responded to all the New Zealand media like here on local TV

It was frankly indefensible… We were wrong“, acknowledges Ron Magill, who regrets having”offended a nation” and announces that Paora will no longer have any direct contact with the public, the “meeting with a Kiwi” is definitely removed from the program. The Prime Minister of New Zealand immediately thanked him “to take it seriously“.”It shows that New Zealanders are very proud of their national bird when they are abroad and they take action if they see kiwis being mistreated” said Chris Hipkins.

The birds, which once numbered 12 million in New Zealand, have seen their population drop to just 68,000, according to the charity Save the Kiwi, and conservation efforts have raised awareness of their vulnerability.

We knew the diplomacy of the panda, we now have a lot to learn from the diplomacy of the kiwi.


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