New Zealand, an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean, offers a very distinctive habitat and ecology. Thanks to its geographical isolation it has very few native mammal species, with a fauna that was historically dominated by birds.

One of its best-known is the Southern Boobook or Morepork owl, made famous in the UK by fantasy author Terry Pratchett, who named a fictional city after it. This bird is named for its distinctive cry, is known locally as the Ruru, and occupies a key place in Maori folkore and tradition.

New Zealand was once home to a well-known extinct owl species, the Laughing owl, named for its distinctive cry. This bird was widespread throughout the islands when European settlers arrived in the middle of the 19th century. It was wiped out by the time of the First World War with its demise caused by specimen collectors, habitat changes and non-native predators including cats and stoats.

Learn more about New Zealand

Here are the New Zealand owls we have at the sanctuary: