Re­vamped Wild­base opens

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - KARO­LINE TUCKEY

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.

DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ.

Wildlife tech­ni­cian Pauline Ni­j­man helps a yel­low-eyed pen­guin ad­just to it’s new Wild­base hospi­tal sur­round­ings.

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