We are privileged to contribute to DOC recovery programmes for threatened native species, including South Island whio (blue duck - <3,000 in the wild), pāteke (Brown Teal - NZ’s rarest mainland waterfowl numbering <2,500), orange-fronted parakeet/kākāriki karaka (NZ’s rarest parakeet numbering <300) and kiwi. Over 90 whio, 90 pāteke, 30 kākāriki karaka and 30 kiwi from Orana have been bred and released to the wild. 18 Orana bred kākāriki karaka have been released to the wild in 2020 alone.
In 2020, Orana welcomed Maud Island frogs to the zoo. These animals were transferred in support of the Department of Conservation’s Native Frog Recovery Group plans. The ultimate aim of our frog research facility is to reliably breed Maud Island frogs in captivity, which would be a rare feat. Scientifically, Maud Island Frogs are genetically indistinguishable from Hamilton’s Frog (which number less than 300 and are restricted to one island in Cook Strait). Breeding Maud Island frogs in captivity would make a significant contribution to native frog conservation and may even enable Hamilton’s frog to be secured in captivity too.
New Zealand’s remaining native frog species belong to an ancient and primitive group and are all under threat. They are very special animals with few relatives and considered evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered. They have remained virtually unchanged since they crawled around the toes of the dinosaurs!
The wild population of Maud Island Frogs is around 30,000. The species remains at extreme risk due to predation, habitat destruction, disease and climate change especially since they are restricted to just four small islands.