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Sculptures by Phyllis Bone


Some of the specimens in our Collections - like the kiwis and tuatara from New Zealand and the monotremes and marsupials from Australia - are of endangered species.

kiwi tuatara
Kiwi and tuatara from the Natural History Collections

Echidna and platypus from the Natural History Collections

These rare specimens were obtained many years ago before it became evident that collecting would contribute to the rapid decline in species that has occurred recently. But even then the Curators were aware that care had to be taken and they obtained our specimens from reputable museums that had a specimen to spare, or from zoological gardens, when animals died, or when naturalists found dead animals in the wild.

Since we have these specimens, it seeems sensible to look after them and to use them to further the cause of conservation.


The kiwi is an intriguing bird that everyone knows. So we are using it to show how species on the verge of extinction can be saved - if the will exists.

Stewart Island kiwi
Stewart Island Kiwi. Copyright: Department of
Conservation, New Zealand. Photo: J. Kendrick
great spotted kiwi
Great Spotted Kiwi. Copyright: Department of
Conservation, New Zealand

In 1991, the Department of Conservation (DOC) in New Zealand launched the Kiwi Recovery Programme to save the kiwi from extinction. This programme shows the ingenuity, dedication and effort that is needed to protect and expand species at threat.

The Kiwi Recovery Programme involves:

Looking after kiwis in the wild by:
  • Nation-wide surveys to monitor kiwi populations;
  • Protecting nests from predators;
  • Managing key populations to save genetic diversity;
  • Establishing the endangered Little Spotted Kiwi on offshore island sanctuaries.
Raising awareness of the kiwi and its needs by:
  • Educational programmes;
  • Seeking help from the community.
Finding out what is needed to help the kiwi by research into:
  • The threats facing the kiwi and what must be done to save them
  • Kiwi genetics, breeding and habitat requirements.

Raising chicks in Captivity - Operation Nest Egg:

Without help, most kiwi chicks are killed by stoats or cats in the wild. Operation Nest Egg was a major breakthrough in finding ways to save the kiwi. This technique enables eggs taken from the wild to be hatched in captivity, so that young birds can be put back into the forest when they are big enough to survive.

young tuatara
Young Tuatara. Copyright: The Department of Conservation, New Zealand. Photo: D. Newman

Learn more about New Zealand's unique animals and plants and the work of the Department of Conservation, the Kiwi recovery Programmes and the efforts to save other endangered species like the Tuatara, Royal Albatross, Kakapo and Takahe by visiting the DOC website.

We are grateful to the Department of Conservation, New Zealand for permission to use their photographs of kiwis, tuataras and Royal Albatrosses in the wild to illustrate our Collections web-site.