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Tragic end to Tarzan and Jane romance

In February, a bird with a crippled leg was hatched in one of the breeding aviaries. He was sent to the release aviary but he was a pathetic little bird and we didn't have the heart to let him go.

We called him Tarzan" (to boost his morale!) and he started to develop into a strong bird.

Around that time we had a female about the same age as Tarzan who was very tame. This is unusual in North Island weka as, traditionally, they are more timid than the South Island species.

We decided to put the tame female with Tarzan, naturally calling her "Jane" and we built them an aviary adjacent to our driveway.

Weka pair for life and quite soon Tarzan and Jane became good friends, playing happily together.

We constructed some bridges which they delighted in climbing onto, running along and leaping off, then running back to the beginning and repeating.

Jane continued to be very tame and would take food from anyone's hand. Both birds were always out and about and were excellent "public relations officers".

Before long they started to display the courtship behaviour of a well bonded pair.

They called together "in duet", preened each other and Tarzan fed Jane all the tastiest food. Then Tarzan started to build nests for his young bride.

Egg laying commenced, but being young the eggs weren't looked after very well.

Incubation is about 27 days and they sat on the last egg for about two weeks before abandoning it.

Next morning we noticed that Jane had a sore eye.

We applied some ointment and saw her fossicking around quietly during the day and that evening her eye looked better.

Next morning we found her dead.

Her body has been sent to the Auckland Zoo for autopsy.