Endangered chick thriving
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.