It’s taken nearly six years, but two endangered flightless birds have a chick that hatched in May at the National Zoo’s research facility, a spokeswoman said.
The brown kiwi, which is native to New Zealand, made its debut May 10 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.
Devin Murphy, a zoo spokeswoman, said this is the first time a chick has hatched at the biology institute. And the little one is special: It’s the first offspring of two kiwis — Ngati Hine Rua and Ngati Hine Tahi — that were given as a gift from the government of New Zealand in 2010.
The birds — which are similar in size to chickens — mate for life, Murphy said. And when the chick’s parents arrived in Virginia six years ago, they were the first kiwis to leave New Zealand in 20 years.
After the chick’s mother, Ngati Hine Rua, laid the egg, she did not incubate it. Female kiwis do not incubate eggs, which typically weigh about 20 percent of the mama’s body weight, Murphy said. Instead, male kiwis do most of the work, and in this particular case, officials said, a kiwi named Iwi incubated the egg for 30 days before keepers placed it in an incubator.