National Zoo’s female Kiwi has died

WASHINGTON — Nessus, a female North Island brown kiwi, died at the National Zoo on Oct. 30. She was 19 years old.

The zoo says initial reports show aspirations of stomach contents was the cause of death. Additional tests will be done to see if Nessus had any other illnesses that led to the aspirations. She did not show any warning sings of being ill, the zoo says.

Kiwis in the wild and in human care can live to be up to 60.

Nessus arrived at the zoo in 2005 from the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. She was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ species survival plan for brown kiwis. The program is meant to determine which animals will be best for breeding, based on a number of qualifications.

Nessus and her mate, a 31-year-old kiwi named Maori, produced six chicks together. The chicks were brought to both national and international zoos for breeding and research.

The National Zoo has a history with Kiwis. The zoo was the first to hatch a kiwi outside of New Zealand, in 1975. Smithsonian scientists are studying kiwi reproduction, and according to zoo officials, they are hoping to learn how to produce kiwi eggs through artificial insemination.

Brown kiwis are considered an endangered species. Only 16 females and 34 male kiwis live in zoos outside of New Zealand. The National Zoo has eight kiwis — three at the zoo and five at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.

Visitors to the National Zoo can see three kiwis at the Bird House exhibit. There are two adult males, Maori and Toru, and one 3-year-old male named Pip.

If you’d like to get up close and personal with them, check out the zoo’s “Meet a Kiwi” program, the only one of its kind in the nation.

For more information, visit the zoo’s website.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is a freelance digital writer/editor at WTOP. She is a recent graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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