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The cost of feeding a recovering brown female kiwi has led to a plea for donations by Massey University Veterinary Clinic. The kiwi, which has a broken leg, is receiving surgery and specialist care. She had been found in Te Urewera National Park by a member of the Tuhoe community.

The pin inserted during initial surgery is to be removed today, and Wildlife Technician Debbie Anthony is confident the kiwi will eventually make a good recovery. But the cost of feeding the kiwi - which consumes $35 (500g) in specially-bred worms a day and has been with the clinic since September - is becoming prohibitive. Over $2,000 has been spent so far.

With experts predicting that if the current rate of decline continues kiwis will be gone from the wild within the next decade, Anthony sees donations as a practical way for members of the public to contribute to New Zealand's natural heritage and to the continuance of national icon.

"As a young breeding-age female this bird could make a significant difference to the population," says Anthony. Breeding age female kiwis can produce an egg a year. Predation by stoats is thought to be a major cause of kiwi population decline.

After its leg has mended, the kiwi will be gradually reaccustomed to foraging for itself, and then reintroduced to the wild.

The Massey Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences is often turned to for help in the specialist care of rare and endangered species. Past IVABS patients have included kakapo, takahe and hihi (stitchbird).

Donations towards the Kiwi's keep will be gratefully received by:

The Kiwi Appeal Massey Veterinary Clinic Private Bag 11 222 Massey University Palmerston North

ends

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