Fears are mounting for one of our most well-known and endangered species after four kākāpō chicks died last month.
The kākāpō were flown to Auckland Zoo for urgent checks and their blood tests revealed a high white blood cell count which meant they were fighting an infection.
The birds were all diagnosed with aspergillosis, a respiratory condition caused by fungus, but experts are stumped as to how it was passed on.
"Aspergillosis is a nasty disease and they can die very quickly from it once signs start to progress," Auckland Zoo Vet Dr Melanie Leitch told 1 NEWS.
"Losing birds is not uncommon, what's uncommon here is the number of cases we're getting."
Dr Andrew Digby from DOC says the disease is not contagious but it is infectious.
"Individuals can get it if they’re exposed to high levels of spores, but one bird can’t pass it to another."
DOC monitors the population of birds on Whenua Hou or Codfish Island and have had success of breeding an additional 73 new chicks, but after five were killed by the infectious disease last month, this news comes as a disappointment.
There are up to 144 kākāpō alive in New Zealand so these deaths could have big repercussions for the endangered species.