Videos of kiwi pauora are shown under bright light by visitors to Zoo Miami. The photos were released on Tuesday and immediately sparked an outcry in New Zealand. Birds are seen there as a national symbol. Miami Zoo spokesman Ron Magill expressed regret New Zealand media“We didn’t know that this bird is a national symbol, that it is a spiritual symbol and animal.”
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The tape went viral within hours and sparked a petition calling for the bird’s release. According to the initiators, the kiwi was exposed to bright fluorescent lighting four days a week, and its delicate whiskers were stroked and displayed as a toy. In less than a day, 9,000 people signed the petition.
Others have sent dozens of emails to the zoo, and some have urged New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hepkins to speak to the US ambassador and get involved. New Zealand’s Department of Conservation said it was discussing the matter with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a US non-profit organization of zoos and aquariums.
The fact that visitors were allowed to view and pet the national bird was part of the so-called “kiwi encounter”. For $25 (€23), visitors to the Miami Zoo can see the bird up close and therefore also touch it. A video from the zoo shows Paura scratching his head. The letter reads: “He loves to be petted and he is like a little dog.”
Ornithologist Robert Webb, who has observed hundreds of kiwis, Tells In the NZ Herald That birds are very sensitive animals and the sound of paper shredding “scares” them. Webb said that Baura would not live long if she was treated this way.
After all the fuss, the zoo decided that the bird would no longer be exposed to bright lighting. Visitors are also no longer allowed near the animal.
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