Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park appeals for visitors

Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park usually attracts thousands of visitors every year, and is recognised nationwide for its conservation success stories.

And now it needs New Zealand’s help.

After 34 years of operation, and with the same family at the helm, its international visitor numbers have dried up. Like many others it is targeting its domestic and local markets with great deals and packages to help keep the doors open and wildlife programmes running.

And for the month of June it’s launching an innovative ‘Koha for kiwi’ programme to help raise awareness and keep the wolf from the door.

The Kiwi Birdlife Park is a national treasure — it holds and displays more than 23 species of native wildlife as part of nationally-managed programmes, takes part in a number of breed-for-release programmes, and has planted more than 18,000 native plants providing essential food and shelter to wild native birds.

Park owner and director Paul Wilson says he is “painfully aware” that tourist numbers will be “very, very low” in the coming months.

“While it’s scary to open the gates for koha donations only in June, we recognise that we need to raise awareness of who we are and what we do with New Zealanders who’re being encouraged to explore their own backyard. We have a product that we are very proud of and this is a great opportunity to share it with as many Kiwis as possible.

“We’re not a government funded facility and are completely reliant on visitors and souvenir sales to fund our conservation efforts, while providing the highest level of care for our endangered native wildlife.

“A few months ago we completed a $1million state-of-the-art new kiwi house but partially because of the COVID-19 situation we’re struggling to get the revenue we need to pay for a significant part of the building cost.

“We visited every kiwi house in the country to make sure we built the best, and now have the largest kiwi display house of any Park in the country. Four of our kiwi are scheduled to be released into the wild over the next few months, but we keep some breeding pairs to add to this vital programme.”

The park is the first New Zealand facility accredited by Australasia’s Zoo and Aquarium Association for providing ‘positive animal welfare’.

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