'More will die' – DOC's dire warning about the future of NZ's kākāpō population

A seventh kākāpō has died, as a respiratory disease outbreak continues to affect the endangered population.

Despite a record-breaking number of chicks born this year, the kākāpō population has been struck by aspergillosis – a disease that is found everywhere in the environment, is hard to diagnose and even harder to treat.

The bird, named “Nora-1-A-19”, died yesterday following a procedure at Auckland Zoo.

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DOC scientist Andrew Digby told Breakfast two more are at real risk of dying from aspergillosis. Source: Breakfast

Dr Andrew Digby, a Department of Conservation kākāpō expert, said the bird had “severe aspergillosis and a very poor prognosis”.

“Nora-1-A-19 was a favourite for many in the team, myself included: from moving her as an egg, to fitting her transmitter, to seeing her in the wild for the last time, before we removed her for treatment,” he said.

Around 35 kākāpō are now in veterinary care, across three veterinary hospitals (Auckland Zoo, The Wildlife Hospital - Dunedin and Wildbase), accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the species total population.

Today, there are just 72 chicks alive, and 142 adults.