Earlier this year, two female chicks hatched at the Zoo, marking the first time female kiwis hatched at the National Zoo. Currently there are only 16 female brown kiwis in zoos outside New Zealand, including nine in the United States.
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo will be using its new kiwi pair at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to establish a breeding science center. The male’s name is Tamatahi (ta-ma-TA-hee), which means first-born son, and the female is Hinetu (hee-nay-TOO), which means proud woman. Both birds came from the Ngati Hine people in New Zealand. Adding these animals to the genetic pool in North America is a rare and valuable opportunity. This pair came with another pair that will continue on to Germany and one bird that went to the San Diego Zoo. When these birds pass away, they will be sent back to the tribe for burial.
Kiwis are native to New Zealand and have been there for more than 60 million years, making them New Zealand’s most ancient bird. Brown kiwis are nocturnal, ground-dwelling, flightless birds whose adaptations more similarly resemble mammals than birds. They have specialized feathers around their face that look like whiskers, a keen sense of smell, good hearing and are the only bird with nostrils at the end of their beak. In addition, brown kiwis lay the largest eggs of all birds in relation to their body size.
Related images and captions can be found to the right.
To download these photos and to see additional photos, visit the National Zoo’s Flickr page.
Lindsay Renick Mayer