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Memphis Zoo Hatches First Ever Kiwi

MEMPHIS, TENN. –  The Memphis Zoo is proud to announce its first ever hatching of a North Island Brown Kiwi. The female is named “Aria,” which means “spirit” in the native New Zealand Maori language, is only the fourth kiwi to live at the Memphis Zoo, and one of only 26 kiwis that live in North America.

Aria is the daughter of “Gruen” and “Koru,” both housed at the Columbus Zoo, on loan from the Frankfurt Zoo. Aria’s egg was laid in Columbus, Ohio, and was picked up on July 19, by Memphis Zoo representative Denise Brucchieri. Aria hatched July 22, and is being raised by Zoo staff.

“It’s an exciting challenge to hatch her and hand rear her,” said Brucchieri, a keeper at the Memphis Zoo.

One such challenge is raising Aria on a reverse light cycle. As a nocturnal bird, she is more active during the nighttime hours. In order to monitor her, Zoo staff retrofitted the Zoo’s hatchery with blackout curtains and red lights, so she is conditioned to be awake during our night hours and vice versa.

“We observe her behaviors, her activities, her eating,” Brucchieri said. “We know she’s doing well when she is the most active.”

She is currently on a diet of commercial bird chow, canned beef dog food, beef heart, vegetables and slivers of papaya. This is similar to their diet in the wild where, as omnivores, they eat a variety of foods found in their forest habitat.

The chick won’t be mature until she is four years old. When Aria is old enough for breeding, a genetic analysis will be done to find a suitable mate for her. She will not be paired with “Justus,” the male kiwi that lives at the Memphis Zoo, because they are related.Justus was hatched in Frankfurt, Germany and can be seen in his exhibit in the Animals of the Night exhibit.

About the Memphis Zoo North Island Brown Kiwis
Only seven zoos in the United States house the birds. Memphis Zoo has housed kiwis off and on since 1991, when a female Brown Kiwi was received on loan from the San Diego Zoo to celebrate the annual Memphis in May festival (when New Zealand was the featured country). The Memphis Zoo imported four kiwis in the fall of 1991 from zoos in New Zealand. A male from the Auckland Zoo was kept at the Memphis Zoo, and the other three were sent to other zoos across the U.S. Memphis’ original kiwis were housed in the Kenyan building. This is now the Dragon’s Lair exhibit, which houses Komodo dragons. In 1995, our remaining male kiwi was sent to the San Diego Zoo on a breeding loan.

Justus, Aria’s half-uncle, was hatched in Frankfurt, Germany. Both Aria and Justus are on loan to the Memphis Zoo from the Frankfurt Zoo. Kiwis are unlike any other bird; they have several mammal-like features, including marrow-filled bones, two functioning ovaries and a low body temperature. They are native to New Zealand, and are known as the “panda of the bird world.” The small, flightless birds are nocturnal, and live in pairs in the wild. These pair bonds can be long-lasting, with some having been recorded of 20+ years.

About the Memphis Zoo
The Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, Tenn., is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Recently named as one of the top five zoos in the country by TripAdvisor®, the Memphis Zoo has completed over $93 million in renovation and expansion since the early 1990s. The Zoo's animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibitry, such as Once Upon A Farm, Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Northwest Passage, Teton Trek and CHINA - home to giant pandas YaYa and Le Le. The Zoo was founded in 1906 and resides on 70 acres in the middle of Overton Park. The Memphis Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Memphis Zoo, YaYa and Le Le are trademarks of the Memphis Zoo.

Posted by Zoo Info at 1:51 PM

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