Wildlife hospital makes case for funding

Jordana Whyte, of the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, wants the council to swoop in with some bridging...
Jordana Whyte, of the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, wants the council to swoop in with some bridging funding. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The Dunedin Wildlife Hospital is asking the DCC for $75,000 in bridging funding so it can spread its wings.

At this week’s annual plan hearings, Jordana Whyte spoke on behalf of the hospital trust.

She said the hospital had treated more than 3500 "patients" since it was established in 2018, and the Dunedin City Council had been a crucial supporter in the past.

"Our accomplishments are your accomplishments."

Among the patients were 1093 hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins, 85 kākāpō and 18 northern royal albatross/toroa.

About 60% of its patients held a threatened, endangered or critically endangered status. The majority of patients were from Dunedin, and more than 80% of its patients returned to the wild.

The requested funding would secure the employment of hospital director Dr Lisa Argilla, who was an expert on hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins and New Zealand parrot species, including kākāpō.

Through previous long-term plans (2018 and 2021), the council provided the hospital with two terms of triennium funding that had anchored its operations, she said.

"We had anticipated submitting to the long-term plan process scheduled for 2024, but since this has been deferred one year, are requesting a single year of funding as a bridge to participation in 2025’s nine-year plan process.

"We understand this disruption in council’s regularly scheduled planning processes is unusual, and thus a one-year funding request from the trust is also unusual."

Ms Whyte said the hospital had "loads" of opportunities to increase co-operation with the council, and it already worked closely with the parks department, including providing veterinary care for the Dunedin Botanic Garden’s aviary birds, kākā, kea and kākāriki released into Orokonui Ecosanctuary and assisting with education programmes at the gardens and the ecosanctuary.

There were also plans for a "very exciting" project in the next few months.

Cr Christine Garey asked Ms Whyte about the consequences of not agreeing to topping up the hospital’s funding.

Ms Whyte said it would be "tricky without the funding".

"We have about a year and a-bit of reserve funding, which is enough for the hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin season.

"The funding helps us put our roots down and spread our wings."

Council will make its deliberations on the annual plan later this year.