The blue duck/whio is a unique native bird found only in New Zealand’s fast flowing waters. They are river specialists – the white water rafters of the native world!
Whio, which features on the New Zealand $10.00 note, number less than 3,000 in the wild and are classified as nationally vulnerable. Their Maori name “whio” describes the distinctive whistling call of the male, which enables pairs to remain in contact above the noise of flowing water, the females make a “crack” sound.
The whio require protection from predators, mainly stoats. Captive breeding is a proven tool that can assist in re-establishing and rebuilding populations by breeding captive pairs and releasing the young into the wild. Population decline is also the result of modification of waterways, loss of riparian (stream-side) vegetation.
Orana Wildlife Park has achieved considerable success breeding the species. To date over 50 blue duck from Orana have been released to the wild and their involvement in this breed for release programme represents some of their most important conservation work.
Every dollar donated by OnlineVetStore goes directly to feeding and rearing the ducklings. The wild diet for Whio consists of almost entirely aquatic invertebrates, in captivity they are fed a specially formulated pellet designed for Whio. Orana Wildlife Park feed the ducklings a wet canned food, which is normally used to assist with recovery from a serious illness, injury or surgery in cats and dogs. This is fed to the ducklings because it is a high energy high protein food source which helps with the early stages of their growth and development, providing extra energy and nutrients required to ensure their survival.