An adult female kiwi being treated at Auckland Zoo after being badly injured in an attack by a fox terrier in the Coromandel last week is highlighting the need for the public to get on board and help keep kiwi safe from dogs this summer.

Attack highlights dogs and kiwi don’t mix - Header Image

The small fox terrier tagging along on a daytime hunting expedition in native forest south of Coromandel town, attacked the lucky-to-be alive kiwi, nicknamed Jo. The kiwi suffered bite and puncture wounds to its back and cloaca, as well as severe bruising.

A hunter retrieved the wounded kiwi and took it to a vet clinic in Coromandel. From there it was driven to the Department of Conservation (DOC) office in Thames and then transported to Auckland Zoo.

While stable, Auckland Zoo vet An Pas, says Jo’s future remains uncertain. “This kiwi is not out of the woods yet. Our key area of concern is the severity of tissue damage that may be present internally, which we’re reassessing today.”

Thames-based DOC Conservation Services ranger, Christine Friis, says the attack is a reminder that any dog of any size can attack and kill a kiwi.

“Your dog can be well behaved and docile until it comes in contact with a kiwi. Dogs are attracted to the smell of a kiwi and it takes just a few seconds for a dog to grab and kill a kiwi.”

“Stoats are the biggest killer of kiwi chicks. Dogs are the biggest killer of adult kiwi,” says Christine Friis.

DOC and community kiwi care groups are providing free kiwi aversion training on the Coromandel over the Christmas New Year holiday. “This helps reduce the risk dogs pose to kiwi. But it’s not a guarantee that a dog that’s received the training will not attack kiwi,” says Christine Friis.

Executive director of Kiwis for Kiwi, Michelle Impey, applauds the hunter for bringing the injured kiwi in for treatment.

”We are pleading with dog owners to keep their dogs out of areas where kiwi live this summer. If that’s not possible, ensure your dog is kept on a lead while in a region with kiwi. We need dog owners to be responsible these holidays to help kiwi alive.”

“Dogs remain the biggest threat to adult kiwi, particularly in areas like Northland, Coromandel, Taranaki and Te Urewera National Park. Kiwi do not have wing muscles to protect them, so a kiwi’s chest can easily be crushed. Any dog can kill a kiwi in seconds, simply by picking it up in its mouth.”

“There’s a lot of great community effort going in to help kiwi. But the reality is a single roaming dog can wipe out an entire kiwi population in a matter of days. If we can keep dogs away from kiwi, we can prevent that,” says Ms Impey.

For more info about kiwi avoidance training and a directory of trainers, visit:


Kiwi Fast Facts

• 95% of kiwi that hatch in unprotected areas die before they reach breeding age

• Kiwi chicks are most at risk before they reach 1kg in weight (around 6 months) and are able to fight off stoats and other predators. The biggest threats to kiwi chicks are stoats, and cats. The biggest threats to adult kiwi are dogs and ferrets

• In Northland, because of the threat of dogs, the average life expectancy of kiwi is reduced from 50+ years to only 13 years

• Without wing muscles to protect it, the kiwi’s chest structure can be easily crushed – any dog can kill a kiwi in seconds simply by picking it up in its mouth

• On average, New Zealand is losing 27 kiwi a week; around 1400 every year!


Help kiwi these holidays

If heading to the beach, bach, and bush these holidays, please be a responsible dog owner and help keep kiwi safe:

• Do your research; find out if there are kiwi where you live or are visiting

• Best option: leave your dog behind with a friend/neighbour, or kennel it

• If you have to take your dog with you, ensure it’s under control at all times, i.e. inside, in a kennel, or on a lead

• Department of Conservation (DOC) and community kiwi care groups in the Coromandel are offering extra kiwi aversion trainings over the holiday period. These are free. Phone DOC on (07) 867 9080 to find out more

• For more info about kiwi avoidance training and a directory of trainers, visit:

• Be aware kiwi aversion training reduces the risk, but does not guarantee your dog won’t attack kiwi

• If you find an injured or dead kiwi, contact your local DOC office or ring the DOC Hotline: 0800HOTDOC (0800 362 468)