Rare kiwi hatches in quake-hit N.Zealand

September 13, 2010
File photo shows an endangered kiwi chick. One of the extremely rare animals that survived a buffeting in its egg during this month's Christchurch earthquake has hatched safely, in a boost to conservation efforts, officials said Monday.

An endangered New Zealand kiwi that survived a buffeting in its egg during this month's Christchurch earthquake has hatched safely, in a boost to conservation efforts, officials said Monday.

Named Rickter, after the scale of the 7.0-magnitude quake, the chick hatched on Sunday at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch.

"Our first egg hatch this year is one breakage that is a welcome relief after the recent quakes," Minister Kate Wilkinson said.

The ground-dwelling kiwi, the avian symbol of New Zealand, is threatened by a host of introduced including rats, cats, dogs, and possums.

Department of Conservation spokesman Rory Newsam said there were fewer than 70,000 kiwis left in New Zealand and the rowi, the sub-species to which Rickter belongs, numbered only 300.

Newsam said Rickter's egg rolled around in its during the September 4 earthquake but rubber matting prevented any damage.

He said the chick would be taken to a small island sanctuary until it was about one year old and better able to defend itself, then released into a wildlife protection area on the South Island.

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