Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Kiwi a Cosmic Joke

If ever there was a cosmic joke it was the creation of the kiwi bird. The kiwi is native to New Zealand and exists no where else in the world. It is functionally blind and it is nocturnal. It has no wings and it can not fly. The hens of the species ovulate once a year and the resultant egg is sometimes 40-50 percent of the body-weight of the hen. If any creature was designed not to survive in our terrarium it is the kiwi.
      The only thing the bird has going for it is that it has no natural enemies. At least it didn’t until the arrival of the British. The Brits brought their pigs with them and introduced porkers to New Zealand. Pigs are an ornery lot and lots of them escaped or were just turned loose. The pigs thought the kiwis tasted just fine and kiwis were suddenly on the diet of the pigs. The pigs taught the Brits that kiwis were indeed yummy. The population of kiwis dropped from the millions down to fewer than ten thousand in less than a century.
      I visited New Zealand a number of years ago and during that trip I went to a facility that cares for kiwis. Most of the remaining birds live in captivity. They had periodic kiwi shows. We were ushered into a large dark room with its walls painted black. There were benches in front of a large terrarium. The enclosure was lighted to resemble a moon lit night. No cameras were permitted and visitors were required to sit soundlessly on the benches watching and waiting. Finally we were rewarded by seeing a lumbering small chicken sized creature pecking around on the ground whatever they feed them. It was reddish in color. It didn’t sing or dance or do tricks. It just went and pecked at the ground and then went and hid. It was pretty boring.
      As a matter of full disclosure I have wondered many times since what one of those birds would taste like...and what kiwl-made wine would go with roasted kiwi. Finding out would probably provoke an international incident.

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