Kapiti SPCA surgically re-attached a duck's beak after it turned up on an Otaki good samaritan's doorstep with the freak injury.
SPCA vet John Hewitt said the duck's bottom beak was torn off and broken on its right side - leaving its tongue hanging through a hole under its chin.
The beak was stitched back in place on Wednesday and the duck was being fed through a tube and had "perked up''.
Mr Hewitt said the injured duck would not have been able to eat, or drink much, and "would have died a slow death of starvation'' had it not been brought in to the SPCA.
Judging by its thin condition, the injury happened two to three weeks ago, he said.
Mr Hewitt put a pin in its lower jaw and stitched it together in the hour-long operation. "It's not going to have a perfect beak, it's a little bit awry ... but I think it will be able to use it alright to feed with.
"I'd say it would be about four to six weeks before it healed, if it's going to, the thing is it's been done a fair while and I was unsure how viable some of the tissue was.''
The duck would be tube fed at the SPCA until it was well enough to eat for itself and be released.
Mr Hewitt said broken beaks are not uncommon.
"There are various birds that come in.
"We've seen a hawk - all manner of birds really . . .
Mr Hewitt said the duck could have been shot by duck hunters, hit by a car or attacked by another animal.
SPCA animal caregiver Tracey Jong said the duck was handed in by an Otaki woman after it literally showed up on her doorstep.
"He was obviously looking for help, I guess."
She said the SPCA's main concern if the duck was shot was its pain and suffering.
"If you've got to shoot something, make sure you do it cleanly."
Ms Jong said it would not be released till after duck shooting season.
- Kapiti Observer
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