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Friday, December 1, 2023
Dec. 1, 2023

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Pūteketeke named New Zealand’s ‘bird of the century’ after John Oliver campaign


The pūteketeke, also known as the Australasian crested grebe, has clinched the title of New Zealand’s bird of the century after a little help from late-night talk show host John Oliver.

“Congratulations to campaign manager John Oliver and all those who gave their support to the pūteketeke,” New Zealand’s newly elected prime minister Christopher Luxon wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The bird of the year contest has been going on for nearly two decades in the country, but this year’s poll drew an unprecedented number of votes, according to BBC News.

Over 350,000 votes from nearly 200 countries were reportedly tallied and crashed the voting verification system for a time, pushing back the result by two days.

Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” launched an aggressive campaign for the bird, also known as the Australasian crested grebe. With fewer than 3,000 native crested grebes estimated to remain in the wild, his campaign aimed to raise awareness about their vulnerability.

“They are weird puking birds with colorful mullets. What’s not to love here?” Oliver said last week on his show.

The comedian also put up billboards in countries including New Zealand, France and the U.K., referring to the bird as “Lord of the Wings.”

“This is what democracy is all about — America interfering in foreign elections,” Oliver also joked. He even appeared on fellow comedian Jimmy Fallon’s show donning a giant pūteketeke costume.

The pūteketeke, which does have a propensity for vomiting, secured over 290,000 votes in the final count, overshadowing the second-place kiwi, which garnered just 12,904 votes.

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