Autumn Conservation Festival Part 2

I wanted to continue my post on the Autumn Conservation Festival and let you readers see some more photos. One of the first animals we saw at the Festival was the animal below. Can you guess what this animal is?


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any guesses?
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is that fur? is it feathers?
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ok…ready???
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It’s a KIWI!

This is Pops. He is a wild caught kiwi and is between 44 & 60 years old. While at the Autumn Conservation Festival, we were able to attend lectures and live demonstrations. Pops’ keeper gave a lecture on kiwi and brought him in a small enclosure so that we could see a live kiwi up close. He was awesome. Their feathers look almost fur-like. I learned that female kiwi are dominant and that kiwi are monogamous, very loyal and have been documented to live over 30 years in the wild. They are omnivores with 75% – 85% of their diet consisting of worms and insects and the like, but they also eat berries. They can also swim and hunt for crayfish and baby eel. The kiwi at Front Royal love when the cicadas are hatching. They quickly gobble them down.

There are five distinct species of kiwi in New Zealand, the only country where kiwi are found. New Zealand is VERY strict on exporting kiwi outside the country. They only allow one species of kiwi off the island and there are very few American zoos that have kiwi in their collection. In the wild, kiwi are VERY hard to come across and 90% of New Zealanders never see a kiwi in the wild.

Perhaps the craziest thing about kiwi are the fact that their eggs take up 15% – 25% of their body size.

You can see the egg in the kiwi skeleton above. How does a kiwi survive this? Where do their organs go? Do they shrink or are they just all squished together during pregnancy? These are the things that would be awesome to find out. Research into questions like these can even help humans. As I spoke to a Front Royal representative at the kiwi display table, he told me that research into kiwi pregnancy could possibly lead to ways to fight disease in humans. How amazing is that?

I’ve got lots more to post on the Autumn Conservation fest, but I’ve got a big day of volunteering at the zoo tomorrow for ZooBoo, so I’ll post more soon! If you are attending any Halloween parties this weekend, please have lots of fun, but be safe!

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