En­dan­gered chick thriv­ing

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Kakapo chick Heather One had a shaky start to life.

At 10 days old she was crit­i­cally ill and was flown from Lit­tle Bar­rier Is­land to Auck­land.

Her mother’s in­abil­ity to ac­cess enough ripe nat­u­ral food and stormy weather from Cy­clone Lusi are likely con­tribut­ing fac­tors to the chick’s poor health, Auck­land Zoo says.

She was ‘‘se­verely un­der­weight and fail­ing to grow, putting her life in jeop­ardy’’, a zoo spokes­woman says.

But Heather One is now ‘‘thriv­ing’’ af­ter an in­ten­sive ef­fort by the zoo and the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion kakapo re­cov­ery team.

The New Zealand Cen­tre for Con­ser­va­tion and Medicine based at Auck­land Zoo has a view­ing gallery where vis­i­tors can see her. It is open 11am to 3pm daily.

The lit­tle grey chick is one of six suc­cess­fully bred this sea­son. Heather One was the first to hatch on Lit­tle Bar­rier Is­land since the species was rein­tro­duced there in 2012.

In the five weeks Heather One has been at the zoo she has grown to al­most one kilo­gram - close to the aver­age weight for her age, se­nior vet James Chatterton says.

‘‘It was touch and go for a while, but kakapo are in­cred­i­bly hardy.’’

Kakapo Re­cov­ery is a part­ner­ship be­tween DOC, the New Zealand Alu­minium Smelters and For­est and Bird.

Ver­coe says the suc­cess­ful breed­ing of six chicks this sea­son in­creases the world’s kakapo pop­u­la­tion to 128.

Very loved: Heather One has been looked af­ter at Auck­land Zoo.

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