Officials from a South Florida Zoo apologized for the viral video showing humans petting a threatened bird, which is a New Zealand national symbol. They also promised to stop their “Kiwi Encounter”.
Zoo Miami spokesperson Ron Magill stated in a Tuesday statement that they are sorry for any stress caused by the video posted on social media showing people handling Paora the kiwi under the care of the zoo.
The statement stated that “though Paora thrived in Zoo Miami, receiving the best possible care, the development and design of the Kiwi Encounter were, with hindsight not well-conceived, considering the national symbolism this iconic animal represents to New Zealanders, particularly the Maori.”
A online campaign has been launched after a video was posted on twitter showing the flightless nocturnal birds being handled and artificial lighting kept them awake. The outcry online caught the attention of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. They promised to contact the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and express their concerns regarding Paora’s enclosure.
Zoo Miami officials stated that Paora would normally be kept in an area where he is not visible to the public, with a shelter allowing him to stay in relative darkness. The zoo plans to create a special habitat where guests can learn about kiwi bird without having to touch them.
Wildlife photographer Holly Neill posted a video of clips from the encounters. She said that it was “appalling to see a kiwi treated in this manner.”
She wrote, “It is kept awake all day long despite it being a species that lives at night.” When it runs into a darkened box to hide, they open the lid.