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Wellington Zoo caring for endangered Zealandia Takahē

Wellington Zoo caring for endangered Zealandia Takahē

An endangered Takahē that usually resides at Zealandia is receiving care at The Nest Te Kōhanga at Wellington Zoo, after being found lame in the left leg.

Puffin the 20 year old female Takahē had shown slight lameness over the past 18 months. However, she arrived at The Nest Te Kōhanga for examination after being seen obviously lame in one leg on Friday last week.

“After taking a range of x-rays, we couldn’t see anything abnormal that might be causing the limp or any arthritis in Puffin’s joints,” said Dr Lisa Argilla, Veterinary Science Manager at Wellington Zoo. “However, we saw some ossification of her tendons, which is when cartilage tissue starts converting into bone, but this is normal in elderly animals. It may just be a sprain that will heal in due course.”

At this stage, the Takahē is set to stay at The Nest Te Kōhanga under observation over the next few weeks.

“We’re going to see how Puffin responds to pain killers over the next few days, and we’ll move her into an aviary where we can get a better look at how she is walking,” said Dr Argilla. “If we don’t see signs of improvement over the next week, then Puffin might have a CT scan so we can get a better look at any subtle changes that might be restricting her movement.”

Wellington Zoo supports Zealandia through specialist veterinary care for native birds as the conservation organisations work together to save native wildlife.

“Being able to work together to look after native wildlife like Takahē is incredibly important, as saving our endangered native wildlife relies on this type of collaboration,” said Dr Argilla. “Wellington Zoo is passionate about saving animals in the wild, and as our Zoo visitors see the care we give our patients at The Nest Te Kōhanga, we are building strong connections with our community about why our native animals are so special.”

Puffin is one of two Takahē at Zealandia. Her partner, T2, is still at Zealandia.

"T2 and Puffin were retired here in 2011,” said Raewyn Empson, Manager Conservation, Research, Learning and Education ZEALANDIA. “As an old pair, there was always an expectation that at some stage one or both of them would face some medical issues – the examination and treatment at The Nest Te Kōhanga gives us hope that she will once again be able to interact with visitors here alongside her mate T2.”

Takahē are flightless birds which were once thought to be extinct until being rediscovered in 1948. The Department of Conservation runs the Takahē Recovery Programme in partnership with Mitre10 Takahē Rescue to ensure the survival, growth and security of Takahē populations throughout New Zealand.

The Nest Te Kōhanga is Wellington Zoo’s animal hospital, which provides specialist care for Zoo animals and native wildlife from Zealandia and around New Zealand.


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