18/05/2019
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World's first bird brain surgery performed on parrot

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A recent brain operation on a Kakapo has been declared the first of its kind by the Massey University medical team. The bird was discovered to have a life-threatening skull deformity, and was consequently airlifted from the New Zealand zoo in which it was residing to Massey's Wildbase Hospital for emergency surgery.  


The young Kakapo had a life-threatening skull deformity prior to surgery (Massey University).

Air New Zealand flew the 56-day old bird, named Espy, for free. "This was only possible because of a national collaboration with vets and conservation workers," Director of Wildbase Hospital professor Brett Gartrell told The Guardian. "The plates of its skull had not completely fused and the fontanelle was still open."

Gartrell says the surgery is risky "and the common complications … in humans include permanent brain damage, continued leakage of cerebrospinal fluid and the possibility of meningitis." A national collective of veterinarians from Auckland Zoo, Wellington Zoo and Dunedin Wildlife Hospital convened to determine that surgery was the best way forward for the chick.

So far, the surgery appears to have been a success and the young bird is doing well and back at Dunedin Wildlife Hospital on New Zealand's South Island.