Thanks to New Zealanders teaming up and rallying online, Zoo Miami, a zoo in Miami, will no longer offer Kiwi encounters that are obviously cruel to the animal.
Footage of the zoo’s solo Kiwi bird, named Paora, being handled by visitors in a brightly lit room was posted on the New Zealand subreddit. Titled ‘Kiwi bird being treated like a lap dog in Miami Zoo’, the post caused outrage and led to Zoo Miami’s inboxes being bombarded by human Kiwis.
"It's not a toy," wrote one Redditor. "Gross."
"This seems like animal abuse to me?" another one said. "Leave the bird alone and let him go back to sleep already."
The zoo released a statement admitting fault, apologising for harm caused to the bird and stress caused to New Zealanders, adding that they have stopped offering the Kiwi encounter.
“On behalf of everyone at Zoo Miami, please accept our most profound and sincere apology for the stress initiated by a video on social media depicting the handling and housing of Paora,” the statement reads.
“The concerns expressed by have been taken very seriously and as a result, effective immediately, the Kiwi Encounter will no longer be offered.”
“The development of the Kiwi Encounter was, in hindsight, not well conceived with regard to the national symbolism of this iconic animal and what it represents to the people of New Zealand, especially the Māori.”
“It is especially painful to all of us to think that anything that has occurred with Paora here at Zoo Miami would be offensive to any of the wonderful people of New Zealand,” they added.
In an email to Webworm, the Zoo’s Communications Director, Ron Magill, ensures that Parora is “in excellent health” and that the zoo will “being the design phase of a new habitat that will address all that he needs”.
Magill told RNZ that he’s “embarrassed” about the whole debacle, is ashamed to have “offended a whole nation” and that he and the Zoo “listened to everyone who wrote us - and there were a lot”.
It's obviously horrible to see our national bird being treated like that, but we're glad the situation has been sorted now. Shout out to everyone who stuck up for Parora.