Very important patient arrives

Dunedin's Wildlife Hospital took in a very special patient only one day after officially opening.

Widget, a female takahe, was moved by car from the Takahe Recovery Programme in Te Anau to the wildlife hospital yesterday afternoon.

Department of Conservation rangers noticed Widget had a swollen hock and was struggling to walk.

Vet nurse Angelina Martelli holds Widget the takahe while wildlife vet Lisa Argilla pries open the bird's mouth so it can be given supplements and painkillers at the Wildlife Hospital in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Vet nurse Angelina Martelli holds Widget the takahe while wildlife vet Lisa Argilla pries open the bird's mouth so it can be given supplements and painkillers at the Wildlife Hospital in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Christine O'Connor

Wildlife vet Lisa Argilla said the first focus was pain relief for Widget before they tried to find the cause of the swelling.

''We've just given her some painkillers because we want her to be comfortable in hospital and then the next steps will be X-rays and taking a sample of the fluid around her joint.''

It would probably be another two days before a full diagnosis was made, Dr Argilla said.

Because takahe were shy birds and tended to get quite stressed in hospital, Widget would have her own ward, complete with native flax and tussock. .

''If she wants to eat that flax she should go for it, because it's probably pretty tasty.''

Widget was the third animal admitted to the wildlife hospital after two yellow-eyed penguins were admitted on Monday.

Wildlife Hospital Trust co-chairman Steve Walker said Widget's injury proved why the hospital was so valuable.

''Although we didn't expect to receive a takahe on our second day, it does vindicate our point that establishing a hospital in Dunedin would reduce travel time and therefore trauma.''

If the wildlife hospital had not been available, the nationally threatened bird could have faced a long flight to Palmerston North to be treated, Mr Walker said.

Once Widget recovers, she will hopefully join 30 other founding birds which will be released into Kahurangi National Park, north of Westport, in an attempt to establish a second wild population.

There are only 347 takahe in existence but the 13-year-old has played her part by raising almost 20 of them.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

 

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