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A Glimpse into Dunedin Wildlife Hospital

The Dunedin Wildlife Hospital cares for New Zealand's most unique and endangered creatures, not least of which is the quirky and very rare kākāpō.

Indeed, these nocturnal night parrots were one of the inspirations to open the hospital. Dr. Lisa Argilla, the Hospital Director, has deep experience caring for kākāpō chicks. Her involvement in safe-haven breeding islands and hand-rearing these precious birds were pivotal in shaping the hospital's mission. With a legacy now spanning generations, the hospital reached a significant milestone in 2022 by hand-rearing the grand chick of one of Dr. Argilla's original charges.

Dr. Lisa Argilla, the Hospital Director, with a kākāpō chick.

Tiny and fragile, kākāpō chicks as light as 27 grams have found a lifeline at the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital. Treating a remarkable 85 kākāpō over the past five years, the team at the hospital have now cared for around 35% of the population. Previously, ill or injured kākāpō had to be transported to the North Island for treatment, a journey that risked their chances of survival. Now, swift intervention is possible, improving the odds of recovery.

While all kākāpō now live in predator-free areas, they still face the occasional injury and disease threats, like cloacitis and aspergillosis, a fungal infection that causes respiratory illness. The hospital's proactive engagement in managing this disease showcases its commitment to preserving these unique avian treasures. Collaboration with partners like AgResearch has enabled the hospital to utilise cutting-edge CT scanners for efficient diagnosis and treatment, significantly enhancing outcomes.

Like all their patients, the hospital strives to be as swift and hands-off with kākāpō as possible. For aspergillosis checks, the team can admit, health check, scan and clear healthy chicks within days, returning them to their nests to be wild-raised.

Hand-rearing kākāpō chicks is a full-on effort. The Hospital team carefully separates the vulnerable young chicks from the rest of the patients, with dedicated staff and equipment used exclusively in the kākāpō ward. Like other babies, round-the-clock care is required, including feedings every two hours for the tiniest chicks.

The driving force behind these efforts is a deep love for New Zealand's native species. The hospital's contribution extends beyond veterinary care; it's about educating communities and the veterinary field about native wildlife and the challenges these species face. Passionate about engaging people in conservation, the hospital believes collective action can improve outcomes for our native species.

The Wildlife Hospital is a small team with a big impact, able to return more than 80% of their patients back to the wild where they belong. However, as a registered charity, sustaining financial support remains an ongoing challenge.

To help carry out its crucial work, Dodoland has pledged to contribute a portion of its proceeds from its new Kākāpō EUGY model towards supporting the Wildlife Hospital's work.

This new partnership is part of the EUGY Giving Back program, which aims to support wildlife conservation and community non-profits. Through this program, Dodoland provides ongoing support to its dedicated partners by connecting them with an EUGY model that will serve as a champion for their cause.

To learn more about our Giving Back partners and their dedicated EUGYs, click here.

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