Revamped Wildbase opens
The first patients have been shifted into a new $1.4 million wildlife hospital at Massey University.
Wildbase, the only dedicated wildlife hospital in the country, officially opened its doors on Friday.
It was sharing space with the rest of the Massey veterinary hospital, but now has its own purpose-built space, 10 times as big, where it can treat as many as 600 patients annually.
A yellow-eyed penguin and a kea were the first to tentatively explore their new cages after Friday’s opening ceremony.
The penguin was healing from a gash to its foot from an unknown predator, and the kea was nursing a wound in its mouth following surgery to remove abscessed flesh.
Director Brett Gartrell was thrilled to have the new facility for treatment, research and teaching.
‘‘Wild animals are stressed and they often come to us very late in their illness when they are quite exhausted. So the first stage of hospitalisation is very critical to their survival.’’
Patients come from throughout the country, and with 42 per cent last year endangered or threatened native species.
For many of these populations each animal that survives and adds to the breeding gene pool can make a significant difference to the survival of the species, he said.
At the hospital’s hub is a long bright white treatment and X-ray room. Small side rooms can be set up as environments suitable for different species.
Penguins like lower temperatures and rubber matting, while nocturnal kiwi might have plants added to their room.
A lab runs down one side of the treatment room, and a nearby intensive care unit houses a long row of temperature and humidity-controlled cages for chronically sick animals.
Pride of place is a sterile surgical room with overhead cameras so students do not have to crowd around the surgeons.
A glass-walled public display room allows the public to view recovering animals from outdoors.
Last year Wildbase staff saw 53 different species, with a wide range of injuries and infections.
Construction of a Wildbase Recovery centre is scheduled to start soon. It will house recuperating animals in public view at the Victoria Esplanade gardens.
Wildlife technician Pauline Nijman helps a yellow-eyed penguin adjust to it’s new Wildbase hospital surroundings.