With a boost from John Oliver, pūteketeke soars to first in New Zealand bird contest

The pūteketeke, a threatened bird species, won first place in a New Zealand bird contest, thanks to a campaign led by comedian John Oliver.

Campaign details: Oliver, hosting “Last Week Tonight”, initiated a global campaign to support the pūteketeke in the Bird of the Century contest run by New Zealand’s Forest & Bird conservation organization.
* Oliver’s team gained permission from Forest & Bird to launch the campaign for the pūteketeke, a native water bird with a distinctive black-brown frill around its neck.
* Activities included a segment on “Last Week Tonight” promoting the bird and billboard advertisements in various countries.

Contest results: The campaign led to the pūteketeke winning the contest by a significant margin.
* The bird won with 290,374 votes, whereas the runner-up, the North Island brown kiwi, received only 12,904 votes.
* Even New Zealand’s incoming Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon, applauded Oliver’s campaign.

The bird’s characteristics: Known as the Australasian crested grebe, the pūteketeke is characterized by unique behaviors and physical features.
* The bird has a unique mating ritual, carries its young on its back in the water, and is known to eat its own feathers and vomit them back up.
* According to Forest & Bird, there are fewer than 3,000 pūteketeke across New Zealand and Australia. The number has been steadily increasing due to conservation efforts.

Conservation context: The Bird of Century contest aimed to raise awareness about threatened bird species in New Zealand.
* More than 80% of the native birds in New Zealand are on the threatened species list.
View original article on NPR
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