New Zealand's national wildlife center is crowing about the appearance of Manukura, the only all-white kiwi chick among this year's large brood of 14.
The white bird hatched on May 1 at Pukaha Mount Bruce wildlife center, the highlight of the most successful breeding season since kiwi were reintroduced into the wild there in 2003, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
"As far as we know, this is the first all-white chick to be hatched in captivity," Pukaha Mount Bruce Board Chairman Bob Francis said in a news release.
This is the first breeding season to include birds – 30 of them, none white – brought to Pukaha from Little Barrier Island to diversify the gene pool, he said.
"The kiwi population on Little Barrier Island has birds with white markings and some white kiwi, but this was still a big surprise," Francis said.
The center managed to hatch and release just 10 chicks between 2005 and last year, but the newcomers produced a bumper crop, the center reported.
"This first breeding season involving the Little Barrier kiwi has far exceeded expectations," Francis said. "Faster breeding is exactly what was intended by the transfer, but we're blown away by the number of chicks produced so quickly."
Although it's their national bird, few New Zealanders have ever seen a kiwi in the wild, according to an educational website. The flightless, nocturnal birds grow to 3 to 9 pounds, about the size of a chicken.
Manukura's name means "of chiefly status" in the Maori language, according to the center.
"Every now and then something extraordinary comes along to remind you of how special life is," said Jason Kerehi, the Rangitane tribe's chief executive and a Pukaha board member, in the news release. "While we're celebrating all 14 kiwi hatched this year, Manukura is a very special gift."