Zealandia, the groundbreaking native wildlife sanctuary in Wellington, was one of two sites in New Zealand selected to receive takahē as part of the Department of Conservation's advocacy programme.
Bunchy and Orbell (the latter named after the scientist Dr Geoffrey Orbell who rediscovered the takahē) will help educate visitors about the role of conservation in protecting New Zealand’s rarest species.
“Very few New Zealanders and even fewer tourists have seen a takahē in the wild,” said Zealandia chief executive Nancy McIntosh-Ward.
“Most takahē outside of captivity live on off-shore islands or in remote mountain reserves. We’re very excited to have the chance to share these beautiful birds with our visitors, and raise awareness about their long road to recovery. Thankfully, we have been given a second chance with the takahē, but in almost every other case extinction means 'lost forever'. Giving visitors a chance to see an animal we came so close to losing really hammers home Zealandia’s central message."
The pair is due to arrive at Zealandia in July.
Zealandia was founded in 1995 as the Karori Sanctuary. It is managed by the Karori Sanctuary Trust, a not-for-profit community-led organisation with a 500-year vision to restore a corner of mainland New Zealand as closely as possible to the way it was ‘the day before humans arrived’.
The establishment of the trust was a major breakthrough in the conservation and recovery of native wildlife on mainland New Zealand, reversing a decline that has lasted for at least 700 years. The sanctuary is bordered by a specially-designed mammal-proof fence to keep out predators that have devastated much of New Zealand's unique flora and fauna. Ten years ago, the 13 most harmful introduced mammals were eradicated, making way for rare native animals like little spotted kiwi, saddleback, hihi and tuatara that had disappeared from the mainland.
Last year, the sanctuary made world headlines with the discovery of the first tuatara to hatch in the wild on mainland New Zealand in over 200 years.
In April the sanctuary, which is just 2km from the centre of New Zealand's capital city, opens a major new permanent exhibition showcasing New Zealand's unique natural history and the story of its conservation movement.