A Queenstown kiwi chick that underwent corrective surgery using new technology has returned to the resort “fighting fit”.
Kiwi Birdlife Park manager Nicole Kunzmann says the unnamed female chick had survived a “stressful” few weeks after her assisted hatching on October 7.
“It’s quite amazing that we now have a beautiful kiwi chick that will be fit for wild release and contribute to the national kiwi programme once she reaches 1kg in weight.”
Staff at the park assisted the hatching because she was malpositioned – similar to a breach birth in humans.
Once she was born, staff realised she had a misaligned beak, which would hinder feeding and inhibit her growth and potential survival.
Staff at Massey University offered to help, suggesting a new technique being developed at the university’s Wildbase Hospital.
Wildbase director Dr Brett Gartrell operated on the chick’s bill tip to bring it back into alignment and said it was in some ways the most difficult surgery of its kind.
“It’s taken two very delicate surgeries to bring the bill tip back into alignment without damaging the sensitive blood and nerve supply that kiwi need to be able to sense food at the end of their bills.”
Park staff want to name the chick something “fitting of her journey” and are asking the public to vote on one of three names by emailing email@example.com with their choice and their contact details.
The names are: Ataahua (Beautiful), Hahana (Radiant light) and Ngaio (Clever).
Entries close at midnight on Sunday and one person will win a Kiwi Birdlife Park prize pack worth $448.