Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Fungal disease claims life of seventh kākāpō

Matthew Theunissen, Reporter

A seventh kākāpō being treated for the respiratory disease aspergillosis has died.

Nora 1-A was just over 100 days old and was the sickest of the kākāpō being treated at the New Zealand Centre Conservation Medicine at Auckland Zoo.

There was no hint of just how unwell she was when RNZ visited the centre yesterday afternoon, as she playfully tugged at the towel she was wrapped in.

That is a major problem with aspergillosis - a fungal disease which infects the respiratory system - birds can seem perfectly all right until it's too late to save them.

Yesterday Auckland Zoo's head of vet services James Chatterton said she needed surgery to remove an abscess in her airway.

"In the last few days, her symptoms have deteriorated and so she sounds like she's choking to death. Without wanting to be too melodramatic, that's exactly what's going on."

There are now 35 kākāpō in three hospitals around the country, getting close to a fifth of the total population.

Mr Chatterton said with seven deaths so far the kākāpō is facing a major threat.

"That's getting on to 20 percent of the population, so about a fifth of the birds that exist are in veterinary hospital somewhere. So it's a really significant and unprecedented problem."

The birds at the conservation hospital are being housed in purpose-built pens in temperature-controlled, bio-secure rooms.

They're being provided with their favourite native plants to eat and are medicated twice daily.

Mr Chatterton said some of the birds face many months of treatment before they are able to return to their island homes.

Esperance 2B is one of the kākāpō receiving treatment
for aspergillosis, which has been spreading among the population
Photo: Supplied / Auckland Zoo

"All the staff in kākāpō recovery put their heart and soul into protecting this species but part of our job as a vet team is to try and maintain a bit of a professional distance because there are going to be tough times ahead, and there's already been tough times recently.

"It's important that for the birds' sake we put our emotions to one side and and focus on giving them the best possible care and the best possible life while they're going through this."

With the help of the Department of Conservation-led Kākāpō Recovery Programme, the birds have had a record breeding season, with the 86 chicks hatched over summer bumping the population up by 50 percent.

"They're an credible species and it's amazing to work with them. We're all fighting for them at the moment as much as we can to really try and save them," said the hospital's clinical co-ordinator, Mikaylie Wilson.

"Everyone's quite worried and ... working long days and trying to pull people in from everywhere. It's quite intense being out there as well when you've got so many sick birds in front of your face."

Shortly after RNZ's visit, there was news from James Chatterton at the zoo that Nora 1-A had died during the surgery.

"If we didn't take action she was - for sure - going to die. We also knew that the treatment she was facing had a low chance of success because the disease was so severe," Mr Chatterton said.

"And it would have meant she had to go through multiple anaesthetics over the next two weeks and if she was too weak to survive today, I feel sure that the disease was too severe for her to recover from at all."

Nora 1-A's death is the first for a month. A full autopsy will be performed to confirm she died from aspergillosis.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Media Collusion With National’s Attack Lines

For most of the past week, any consumer of this country’s management of Covid-19 would think New Zealand was actually Brazil, or Texas. The media language has been full of claims of “botches” at the border, and laxness and inexcusable errors ... More>>

Gregor Thompson: Don’t Be Too Pessimistic About New Zealand’s Future.

With the first hurdle hopped our Government will be turning its attention to trying to soften the economic damage this pandemic has on our little archipelago. More>>

Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>



Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>