Zoo officials in Miami, Florida apologized after backlash when a video posted online showed zoo visitors petting a threatened kiwi bird from New Zealand in its “Kiwi Encounter” exhibit.
Ron Magill, a spokesperson for Zoo Miami said the zoo apologizes for any offense or anxiety caused by the video posted to social media showing visitors handling the bird.
The bird, called Paora, “has thrived at Zoo Miami while receiving the best care available,” the zoo said.
“Please know that Paora is normally kept out of public view in a quiet area. This area provides him with a special shelter that enables him to remain in relative darkness during the day so that he can, at his discretion, come out and explore his habitat in the quiet of the evening,” the zoo said.
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An online petition was started after the video was posted to Twitter and TikTok. New Zealand’s Department of Conservation responded saying it would contact the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to voice their concern about how the bird was being treated.
The zoo said it would end the exhibit in its current form and plan to build a habitat that would display the bird for guests while prohibiting any contact with the animal.
The zoo said it “feels extremely privileged to be the first facility in the state of Florida to successfully hatch a kiwi as part of a partnership with the Smithsonian National Zoo.”
The zoo continued, “We are happy to have watched him grow and thrive under our care and are committed to providing him with the best environment possible while respecting and honoring all that he represents.”
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