Otago Polytechnic

A rare female takahē has been admitted to the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital today, highlighting the importance of the facility to the rehabilitation of various precious species that live in the South.

Based at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Veterinary Nursing, the facility is the only specialist wildlife hospital to treat sick and injured native animals in the South Island.

A partnership between Otago Polytechnic and The Wildlife Hospital Trust, the hospital will be able to treat up to 500 animals per year when staffed at full capacity.

“Widget” the takahē was observed to have a leg injury and took a three and a-half hour journey by car from Te Anau to the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital for diagnosis and treatment if required*. 

Widget will be housed in her own ward, complete with native foliage donated yesterday by the Dunedin Botanic Garden (Dunedin City Council), Blueskin Nurseries and Ribbonwood Nurseries.

Still, she won’t be entirely alone. Two yellow-eyed penguins, admitted to the hospital on its opening day on Monday, are just down the corridor.

Takahē have a threat classification of “Nationally Vulnerable” (reclassified from “Nationally Critical” in 2017). As at October 1, 2017, there are 347 takahē in existence.

Widget was hatched in October 2004 and taken from a nest from the wild takahē population in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland, and incubated and puppet-raised by rangers at the Burwood Takahē Centre, near Te Anau.

She currently lives at the Burwood Takahē Centre with her partner Charles and their family of two sub-adults (last-season chicks) and two chicks.

Widget has made a considerable contribution to the Department of Conservation’s Takahē Recovery Programme, raising just under 20 chicks to date. She is a described by DOC staff as a “very devoted and relaxed parent”. 

Widget and her family are among 30 founding birds destined to be released into Kahurangi National Park early this year as the Takahē Recovery Programme attempts to establish a second wild takahē population. 

“The Takahē Recovery Programme is hoping Widget makes a speedy recovery so she can move to her new home in the wild,” Julie Harvey, Takahē Advocacy Ranger, Department of Conservation — Te Papa Atawhai, says.

“The TRP welcomes the opening of the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital given its skilled and expert staff.”

Julie also praised the benefits of having such a facility in the South.

“The Wildlife Hospital’s close proximity to the Burwood Takahē Centre, the hub of the takahē breeding programme, reduces the travel times for birds who are likely to be stressed due to injury or illness.”

Steve Walker, the Co-Chair of the Wildlife Hospital Trust, agrees:

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

“For example, had we not been open, Widget the takahē would have likely faced a long flight to Palmerston North to be treated,” Steve says.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t see any takahē through our doors, but we are delighted to be able to help this bird.”

Visit the Wildlife Hospital's website and Facebook page.

Find out more about studying Veterinary Nursing at Otago Polytechnic




Published on 16 January 2018

Orderdate: 16 Jan 2018
Expiry: 24 Apr 2018