Brown kiwi recovering well after life-saving procedure to remove him from shell

A brown kiwi is recovering well after a life-saving procedure to remove him from his shell.

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The species is classified as in serious decline. Source: 1 NEWS

Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre was incubating the egg when head kiwi ranger Jess Flamy discovered the chick was in the wrong position when a light was shone behind the egg.

“I can not see the yolk so I knew it was ready to come out of the egg and that’s why we started the assisted hatch. We start to open the shell for him,” she said.

During the process, Ms Flamy discovered the bird had a swollen umbilicus, and the blood vessels that normally drain so the bird can break free from the shell had not done so.

“That’s my first time in my six years here at Pūkaha," she said. “I was just worried that if I was just cutting the veins by myself then it was going to bleed too much.”

A brown kiwi is thriving after a life-saving procedure to remove him from his shell. Source: Ryan Willoughby, Massey University.

The chick was rushed to Wildbase Hospital at Massey University in Palmerston North.

“There was definitely a high risk he would have haemorrhaged from that site,” Wildbase Hospital veterinary resident Kathryn Johnson said.

The blood vessels were clamped and stitched shut before the bird was cut free.

“It was a big relief, we were happy,” Ms Johnson said.

Both Ms Flamy and Ms Johnson say the situation points to the value of conservation programme Operation Nest Egg, which sees chicks reared in captivity until they weigh 1.2kgs, when they are considered better able to defend themselves against predators in the bush.

In unmanaged areas of bush, just half of eggs hatch where as those cared for through the initiative have a hatch rate of 90 per cent, Department of Conservation animal ecology advisor Rogan Colbourne said in a statement.

"This sort of procedure is not very common," he said.

It’s the second time the procedure has been performed at Wildbase Hospital in a decade.

“I’m glad to hear he’s doing great, that’s awesome,” Ms Flamy said.

The brown kiwi is at risk of extinction, with the population declining by around 2 per cent a year.