Kiwi ingenuity – and a bit of masking tape – has saved a kiwi chick, after its egg was badly damaged, endangering its life.
The egg, with a large hole in its shell, was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua by a Taranaki field worker. Rainbow Springs’ kiwi husbandry manager Claire Travers said the shell was broken through to the egg’s internal membrane, splitting it and the membrane had collapsed on top of the chick, which was very dangerous.
After cleaning up the egg and removing the broken shell pieces, Travers carefully placed the shell of another egg over the hole using masking tape to hold it in place. “The shell is a vital structure as it maintains the correct moisture of the membrane, absorbing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. Without it, the egg is in danger of losing too much moisture,” Travers said.
“To be honest I didn’t think the chick had any chance of surviving because the hole in the shell was so big. I was absolutely over the moon when it hatched. Saving the chick is a credit to the Kiwi Encounter team who pooled their expertise and experience to come up with a solution to help save it. The hatch itself was amazing with the part of the shell that was taped on to the egg actually mimicking the original shell and cracking in unison as if it was part of the existing egg. It really gave me a thrill that against all odds we had saved one of our iconic kiwi chicks. ” Travers said.
The 2016/17 hatch season was a success with 126 chicks hatched, resulting in over 1650 chicks now released into the wild to date. Rainbow Springs’ involvement in kiwi conservation began in 1995 with the arrival of its first egg, and the hatchery has grown over the years to become the largest kiwi hatching facility in New Zealand, incubating and hatching brown kiwi eggs from around the North Island.
Most kiwi chicks don’t survive in the wild due to predators such as stoats, so Department of Conservation staff and independent kiwi organisations lift the partially incubated eggs from their burrows and deliver them to Kiwi Encounter to incubate and hatch. Kiwi eggs take approximately 78 days to incubate. After hatching, the chicks are raised to a ‘stoat-proof’ weight of 1kg before being released back into the wild.
This chick has been called ‘Fissure’, after the cracking in the egg and was released to Paraninihi, a Maori trust block in north Taranaki near the coast, on 18th March 2017 at a ‘stoat-proof’ 1kg.
Emma Bean, Kiwi Husbandry Manager, Kiwi Encounter, Rainbow Springs
Photos courtesy of Rainbow Springs