A paddling of Whio Ducks has hatched at Auckland Zoo! These special ducklings are the first Whio born at the New Zealand facility in five years, and as part of their breed-for-release programme, they are destined for life at a beautiful North Island river.
Over the next eight weeks, as they continue to grow, they will eventually head to a duckling ‘boot-camp’ at a Department of Conservation facility in Turangi. There they will build up their muscles and learn to fly, which will prepare them for a new life in the wild. In 2002 Auckland Zoo successfully released eleven Whio chicks.
This iconic native New Zealand bird features prominently on the countries $10 currency note, and it is nationally endangered. They require clean, fast flowing streams to swim in, and because of this, are a key indicator of the health of native rivers.
Once found in the North and South Island, of New Zealand, their numbers have reduced greatly due to pollution and predation.
Whio releases into the wild are a great example of the work that Auckland Zoo does behind-the-scenes with partners like DOC Whio Forever, in an effort to conserve native wildlife.
Although these new ducklings are off display, adult Whio can be seen by Zoo visitors swimming in the streams in The High Country aviary in Te Wao Nui.