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A Miami zoo had to apologize to New Zealand after thousands online said it offended the country with its treatment of kiwi birds

Hannah Getahun   

A Miami zoo had to apologize to New Zealand after thousands online said it offended the country with its treatment of kiwi birds
  • Zoo Miami issued an apology for its treatment of a kiwi that was part of a wildlife encounter experience.
  • After videos online surfaced of the experience, people began a petition to rescue the bird.

A campaign led by outraged social media users and New Zealand's Department of Conservation to raise awareness about the treatment of a kiwi in captivity resulted in a Miami zoo issuing an apology for offending a nation.

Pāora, a kiwi hatched at Zoo Miami, had been part of a wildlife encounter program with the zoo, where guests would get the chance to pet New Zealand's flightless bird for just over $20.

However, videos of the experience online prompted concerns from people afraid that the animal was being mistreated by zoo staff by being exposed to bright lighting and excessive exposure.

One petition to "Save This Mistreated Kiwi" that received over 10,000 signatures pointed out the fact that kiwi are mostly nocturnal animals. The New Zealand Department of Conservation also stepped in, saying in an online statement that it would be speaking to the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums about the situation.

Following the outrage, Zoo Miami communications director Ron Magill told Radio New Zealand that the kiwi encounter was a "huge mistake" and that the zoo had "offended a nation." Magill also confirmed that the bird is no longer being handled by guests, and is now living in a dark enclosure.

"I am embarrassed that we're in this position. This was not well conceived when they came up with this plan. The thought was 'well, since the bird is eating and seems very healthy and doing well, that this is something that maybe we could do'," Magill told RNZ. "We were wrong."


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