Full AM interview: Miami zoo 'profoundly sorry' over viral kiwi video, encounter scrapped 'effective immediately'

Zoo Miami has apologised and suspended kiwi interactions after mass outrage online due to the bird's treatment. 

Video footage of Paora being manhandled as part of the zoo's interactive kiwi experience sparked calls for him to be returned home. 

Conservation specialists in New Zealand warned the bird could have just six months to live if the treatment continued.

Speaking on AM, the zoo's goodwill ambassador Ron Magill apologised and said the experience will stop immediately. 

"We are profoundly sorry," Magill told host Ryan Bridge on Wednesday.

Among those unimpressed by the treatment of the kiwi was Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre manager Robert Webb, who believed the bird wouldn't survive longer than six months.

Magill said the kiwi's treatment was "really indefensible".

"I can tell you that we have listened... effective immediately, this morning, the entire encounter has been eliminated - there will be no access to the kiwi by the public in that manner any longer." 

Magill told AM the zoo should've known better.

"The fact is, we hatched this kiwi back in 2019 - the first kiwi to hatch in the state of Florida... it was thriving, continues to thrive and I guess it was taken for granted."

He added the zoo wasn't being sensitive to the fact the kiwi was also a national symbol.

"It is an icon," Magill said. "It is a spiritual animal to the people of New Zealand. If you put the shoe on the other foot, if we're going to watch a Kiwi go out there and grab a bald eagle and do things that are unnatural... I don't know how many Americans would sit back."

Magill said the encounter usually lasted about five minutes and took place four times a week.

"Again, that's five minutes too long... it's wrong and it will not ever happen again here and that's a promise I can make to all of you."

Save the Kiwi, a New Zealand conservation group, was thrilled the zoo had decided to halt its paid encounters with Paora.

The zoo's response to the issue was a step in the right direction, executive director Michelle Impey told AM.

"It was a very appropriate response," Impey said.

"I'm very pleased... I'm sure everyone here who's spoken up will be feeling the same way. That's the outcome we would hope for."