Critter of the Week is a weekly RNZ National programme about endangered and neglected native plants and animals of New Zealand.
Beginning in 2015, Critter of the Week is an approximately 15-minute discussion between Nicola Toki of the Department of Conservation and host Jesse Mulligan on an "uncharismatic and lovable" New Zealand species.The topic of spotlighting uncharismatic species was raised in an interview by Mulligan in April 2015, and the programme originated in a discussion between Mulligan and Toki about threatened bird conservation, in which she lamented a lack of attention and corporate funding for species such as the Smeagol gravel maggot. The first episode, airing 2 October 2015, featured the New Zealand bat fly. Each week's broadcast is supported by improving the Wikipedia article for the species in question. The show currently airs on Friday afternoons.
In 2018, artist Giselle Clarkson designed t-shirts featuring a selection of species that had appeared on the programme.In September–October 2018, a "Critter of the Week: Bake-off" competition invited listeners to bake a cake in the shape of their favourite "critter".
The Critter of the Week project was the subject of a lightning talk by Mike Dickison for the 2018 ESEAP Conference in Bali, Indonesia.An updated presentation was given at the Wikimedia Australia Melbourne meetup in November 2018. Critter of the Week was discussed as an example of a museum outreach at the 2018 SPNHC conference in Dunedin.
Malherbe's parakeet, usually known as the orange-fronted parakeet, is a small parrot endemic to New Zealand. In New Zealand it is always known as the orange-fronted parakeet, a name it shares with a species from Central America, while in the rest of the world it is known as Malherbe's parakeet. Restricted to a few valleys in the South Island and four offshore islands, its population declined to around 200 in the 1990s, and it is considered critically endangered.
The black stilt or kakī (Māori) is a wading bird found in New Zealand. It is one of the world's rarest birds, with 169 adults surviving in the wild as of May 2020. Adult kakī have distinctive black plumage, long pink legs, and a long thin black bill. Black stilts largely breed in the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island, and are threatened by introduced feral cats, ferrets, and hedgehogs as well as habitat degradation from hydroelectric dams, agriculture, and invasive weeds.
Archey's frog, Leiopelma archeyi, is an archaic species of frog endemic to the North Island of New Zealand. It is one of only three extant species belonging to the taxonomic family Leiopelmatidae. It is named after Sir Gilbert Archey, the former director of the Auckland Institute. The holotype is held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It is found only in the Coromandel Peninsula and near Te Kuiti in the North Island of New Zealand. This species, along with others in the family, have changed little over the past 200 million years, thus they represent "living fossils".
The Maud Island frog is a primitive frog native to New Zealand, one of only four extant species belonging to the family Leiopelmatidae.
Brian Douglas Bell was a New Zealand environmental consultant and ornithologist.
Nicola Toki is a New Zealand conservationist. She has worked for the Department of Conservation as threatened species ambassador and became chief executive of Forest & Bird in April 2022.
The shore plover, also known as the shore dotterel or by its Māori name of tuturuatu, is a small plover endemic to New Zealand. Once found all around the New Zealand coast, it is now restricted to a few offshore islands. It is one of the world's rarest shorebirds: the population is roughly 200.
Whitaker's skink, also known commonly as Whitaker's New Zealand skink, is an endangered species of skink, a lizard in the family Scincidae. The species is found only in New Zealand.
The Chatham snipe or Chatham Island snipe is a species of wader in the family Scolopacidae. It is endemic to the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, and is only found on a few islands in the south of the Chatham Islands group.
Sigaus childi is an endangered protected species of grasshopper known only from the Alexandra district of the South Island of New Zealand. It is one of just two species of grasshopper listed for protection under the New Zealand Wildlife Act 1953. It is currently classified as "At Risk, Naturally Uncommon" by the Department of Conservation. The genus Sigaus is endemic to New Zealand.
Hadramphus spinipennis, commonly called the coxella weevil, is a large, nocturnal, flightless weevil only found on Mangere and Rangatira Islands in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand.
Geodorcus ithaginis, the Mokohinau stag beetle, is a large flightless species of stag beetle in the family Lucanidae. It was described by Thomas Broun in 1893 after being discovered in the Mokohinau Islands by Andreas Stewart Sandager, a lighthouse keeper on the islands. The species survives only on the small unnamed island "Stack H", in a patch of vegetation the size of a living room, and is in extreme danger of extinction.
The New Zealand mole cricket is a wingless member of the mole cricket family Gryllotalpidae. Endemic to New Zealand, it lives underground and is rarely seen. It is now restricted to parts of the southern North Island.
Ngā Uruora - Kāpiti Project is a community conservation project set up in Paekakariki, New Zealand in 1997 by Fergus Wheeler. It is named after the book Ngā Uruora: The Groves of Life - Ecology & History in a New Zealand Landscape by ecologist Geoff Park. The main aims of Ngā Ururoa are protecting and restoring the Kapiti Coast's unique kohekohe forest, re-establishing forests through planting programmes, and undertaking pest and weed control.
Asaphodes frivola, also known as the remuremu looper moth or Foveaux looper moth, is a species of moth in the family Geometridae with flightless females. It is endemic to New Zealand, and critically endangered, occurring in a very narrow and specialised habitat at just two small coastal sites near Invercargill.
Jesse Robert Turi Mulligan is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently works as a co-host for The Project on Three, an afternoon presenter on RNZ National, and a writer for The New Zealand Herald's Viva Magazine.
Olearia gardneri, commonly known as Gardner's tree daisy, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is found only in New Zealand. At one point it was ranked as New Zealand's rarest tree, with only 160 wild individuals known.
Michael R. Dickison is a New Zealand museum curator, zoologist and Wikipedia editor. He was New Zealand's first Wikipedian at Large, in 2018–19, receiving a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation.
The Chesterfield or Kapitia skink is a species of skink found in New Zealand. Only discovered in 1994 and for years not recognised as a distinct species, it is endemic to a narrow 1 km strip of coastal vegetation on the West Coast of New Zealand, 15 km north of Hokitika. There are fewer than 200 individuals remaining in the wild. Oligosoma salmo is the only New Zealand skink with a prehensile tail, suggesting it was once arboreal and inhabited coastal forest, which was subsequently cleared for dairy farming. Following the partial destruction of its remaining habitat in 2018 by a cyclone, a small captive breeding population was established at Auckland Zoo.
Siobhan Leachman is a New Zealand citizen scientist, open knowledge advocate, and Wikipedian whose work focusses on natural history.