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A rare bird an d a Red Panda are born in New Zealand

March 19, 1997
Web posted at: 11: 53 p.m. EST (0453 GMT)

(CNN) -- New Zealanders have plenty to celebrate with the birth of two rare animals -- a native Kakapo bird and a Red Panda.

Only about 50 Kakapo birds are thought to remain in the wild in New Zealand. A chick was hatched recently in captivity at Codfish Island.

The bird seems "very healthy," veterinarian Paul Jansen said. "It's being fed by its mother every hour, and those bouts are lasting for 10 minutes." The skills of the chick's mother are crucial to its survival.

Kakapo chicks are extremely vulnerable. Of three that hatched f ive years ago, only one survived. Jansen is hoping nine more eggs on the island also hatch.

In another bit of good news for wildlife lovers, Auckland Zoo has been celebrating the birth of two Red Panda cubs. Keepers introduced the pandas to the public for the first time Wednesday.

There are about 240 of the animals in captivity. The number of Red P andas left in the wild is unknown, but thought to be dwindling. That's because the supply of bamboo shoots -- its primary food -- has been reduced by the growth of farmland.


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