14 November 2019
After two days of exhausting kicking and pecking through egg shell, the 2000th chick at New Zealand's National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa has been born.
And it already has a huge fan base, after its birth was livestreamed around the world.
Smitten viewers watched on as the egg started to jiggle. The chick then made a tiny hole in the air-filled sac inside the egg before poking the pink tip of its beak through the shell and breathing clear air for the first time.
The fluffy chick, yet to be named, weighs a healthy 342.8 grams and is already using its long beak to find stability as it explores its new environment.
Its gender will be unknown for another month until DNA tests are completed.
Kiwi mums lay up to 100 eggs in a lifetime, yet New Zealand's wild kiwi population is declining by three per cent every year. Of every 100 kiwi eggs laid in burrows in the forest, only five kiwi chicks will make it to adulthood.
Without ongoing support, experts estimate the brown kiwi will be extinct in the wild within two generations.
The National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa at Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua is the leading kiwi hatchery in the world, incubating and hatching over 130 kiwi chicks each year - about 75 per cent of all kiwi incubated and hatched outside their natural setting in New Zealand.
Spokesperson Helen McCormick said she expected the new celebrity to draw thousands of fans to the hatchery.
"This is a wonderful time to visit the hatchery as hatching season is in full swing, visitors can join a guided tour and experience first-hand where the kiwi are incubated, the hatching process and hopefully see some newly hatched chicks," she said.
Kiwi are unusual birds in many ways. They can't fly, they sleep standing up, and they can run as fast as a human. They also have cool body temperatures that resemble mammals more than birds, have whiskers like cats, and big ears with keen hearing.