First kiwi hospital opened in New Zealand


New Zealand opened its first dedicated 'kiwi hospital' in February, with the facility dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of the iconic flightless birds.

Situated in Kerikeri, the purpose-built hospital was built by local conservation group Kiwi Coast. New Zealand's Department of Conservation confirmed that it stands as the country's first and only kiwi hospital.

Kiwi Coast co-ordinator, Ngaire Sullivan, said there was a need for specialised care, with the North Island Brown Kiwi population in the Northland region now approaching 10,000 birds.

North Island Brown Kiwi numbers are increasing, which experts say will mean more birds will need to be taken into care after encounters with pets or vehicles (Animalia).

This population growth is the result of the efforts of conservation groups targeting introdued predators such as stoats and ferrets, as well as educational initiatives for dog owners, to prevent attacks on kiwis. As the numbers climb, Sullivan stressed the importance of having a hospital for sick or injured birds.

Sullvian said: "Some will be struck by cars – the more kiwi we have, the more likely that there's going to be the odd one that needs help."

The hospital, run by volunteers, has veterinary equipment and quarantine pens to prevent the spread of disease. It aims to offer care for kiwi patients for up to three months before releasing them back into the wild.

Before the official opening, the hospital enjoyed a success story with a young kiwi named 'Splash'. The bird was found close to death in a swimming pool filter by a builder, but after receiving prompt treatment, 'Splash' was successfully released after a few days of care.