Four healthy chicks have been hatched and hand-reared by our expert bird keepers in the fourth-year of our hand-rearing trial with the Department of Conservation.

This work is crucial as fewer than 40 of these native birds survive today. Over many generations tara iti adapted to nest and lay their eggs on low lying sand spits where extreme weather, introduced predators and human disturbances have impacted greatly on their survival. The ambitious goal of this conservation programme is to boost numbers of tara iti in the wild.

Precious eggs are brought to the Zoo for incubation by DOC rangers, allowing the parents to lay another clutch. Once hatched, the chicks are fed every 90 minutes for 12 hours each day (from 7am – 7pm!) for the first 12 days of their lives. A huge commitment over the Christmas / New Year’s period from our amazing team.

The tara iti chicks have now been transferred to an aviary within a predator-free pen in the wild, near where the adult birds flock. Here, they are cared for by Zoo staff and DOC rangers as they learn to fly and fish under natural conditions. These growing chicks eat a lot of kai such as sustainably harvested giant kōkopu. A 60 gram chick is able to consume 20 grams of salmon in one sitting - imagine eating a third of your body weight!

We’ll keep you updated as they progress!