Paul O’Shea joined the Trust in July 2012, after 8 years working as a keeper at Auckland Zoo. It was while working with the zoo’s New Zealand native animals—everything from tuatara to Antipodes Island parakeet—that Paul first came across the work of BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust. More recently he worked with exotic animals; primates and African hoof stock.
Paul says his new role as full-time administrator for Kiwis for kiwi is a big step away from what he knows, but describes it as: ‘a tremendous opportunity at a very exciting time’.
It began with his introduction to kiwi at Auckland Zoo. ‘Having that experience at the zoo has given me an insight into kiwi conservation at the shovel end as it were. Being able to play a small role in the conservation of a national icon is an opportunity not to be taken lightly.’
Not only that, he says, kiwi are keystone species. ‘If we are taking care of them and they are thriving, then other New Zealand native species will be pulled back from the brink of extinction as well.’
For Paul, the high points so far are being the first living thing a kiwi chick sees after it hatches, and being part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg, raising and releasing birds back into the wild.
‘Knowing that those chicks will have a substantially better chance of survival because of the work that the community groups, DOC, the captive institutions and the Kiwi Trust do.’
Paul’s low point is the realisation that if we don’t do something, New Zealand’s national icon could become extinct in the wild in the next 50 years. ‘The fact that so many people outside the conservation community do not know about the risk that kiwi face is a real eye opener to me, and also a call to action for us to enlighten them.’