Kakapo dies just be­fore release

Central Leader - - News -

A sick kakapo be­ing cared for at Auck­land Zoo died last Wed­nes­day, the day he was due to re­turn to the wild.

Zoo vets are dev­as­tated by the death, which came af­ter two months of treat­ment for lead poi­son­ing.

An au­topsy con­firmed Lee died from a small tear in his di­ges­tive sys­tem which caused se­vere in­flam­ma­tion.

“While work­ing to re­pair this in­jury, Lee’s heart stopped twice, but we man­aged to re­sus­ci­tate him,” says se­nior vet Richard Jakob-Hoff. “How­ever, he went into car­diac ar­rest again at the end of the pro­ce­dure, and this time we were un­able to bring him back.

“The shock to his sys­tem was too great.”

Ex­perts say Lee could have been up to 100 years old.

His death leaves only 90 sur­viv­ing kakapo in the world.

Lee was brought to the zoo’s New Zealand Cen­tre for Con­ser­va­tion Medicine af­ter los­ing a sig­nif­i­cant amount of weight on An­chor Is­land in Fiord­land.

He had re­cently been moved from Cod­fish Is­land, just off Ste­wart Is­land, where he was one of the found­ing male kakapo trans­ferred to the 1980s.

Lee had been tube-fed twice a day to get his weight back up, and was ready to be re­turned to the wild.

Vets say up un­til Mon­day evening he ap­peared in good shape and was be­hav­ing nor­mally.

Other birds on the Cod­fish and An­chor is­lands, the only two kakapo pop­u­la­tions in the world, ap­pear in good health.

Dev­as­tat­ing loss: Ve­teri­nary nurse Me­lanie Freed­man feed­ing Lee with vet John Pot­ter. Lee died fol­low­ing an op­er­a­tion on Wed­nes­day.

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