Zoo Miami cancels kiwi encounters after New Zealanders outrage
A US zoo has issued a creeping apology after admitting it made a “huge mistake” that angered an entire country.
In recent days, footage of Miami Zoo’s paid encounters with Paora the kiwi has gone viral, showing the bird being handled and passed around for selfies in broad daylight and under bright lights, despite being a shy, nocturnal animal. .
The treatment of their national icon has sparked fury among New Zealanders, with a petition to save the ‘abused’ animal launched following the video that went viral attracting more than 10,000 signatures.
“He has been tamed and subjected to fluorescent lighting four days a week, handled by dozens of strangers, stroked over his sensitive whiskers, teased and paraded around like a toy,” the petition reads.
“Kiwis are nocturnal animals, which should be kept in appropriate dark enclosures and handled as little as possible.
“The best practice manual for kiwis states that they should not be handled often or taken out of their burrows to be held by the public. It is kept awake during the day, with only a small box in a brightly lit enclosure to mimic its natural underground habitat.
Now zoo communications director Ron Magill has confirmed the attraction has been canceled and apologized in an interview with the Herald of New Zealand.
“We regret the unintended stress caused by a social media video depicting the handling of Paora, the kiwi bird currently housed at Zoo Miami,” Magill said.
He also told RNZ that he informed the zoo director that “we have offended a nation”.
“When I saw the video myself, I said we made a huge mistake here,” he said.
“I’m sorry. I’m so remorseful. Someone asked how you’d feel if we did this to your bald eagle, and you’re 100% right.
“I never want to come across as making excuses, I’m here to apologize…to everyone. I feel deeply bad about this.
However, Mr Magill said Paora was healthy despite the controversy.
“He eats like he’s at the spa every day and he’s fine. That doesn’t excuse what he went through. But I promise it won’t happen again,” he said.
After the video began circulating around the world, the zoo was inundated with complaints, with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation confirming that it would “discuss the situation with the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums to address certain housing and management concerns raised”.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins also weighed in on the debacle, saying it “shows that many Kiwis are proud of our national bird when they are overseas”.
“New Zealanders who witnessed what was happening there understood it quite quickly,” he said, adding that the zoo had “made public statements of regret about what happened. past, and I acknowledge that and thank them for taking it seriously.”
The kiwi is considered a species of taonga – native birds, plants and animals of particular cultural significance to New Zealanders.
New York Post