White kiwi swallowed large stones

MATT STEWART
Last updated 05:00 20/10/2011
Kiwi
MIKE HEYDON
WHITE DELIGHT: Manukura, a rare white kiwi chick, hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce.

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The rare white kiwi hatched in Wairarapa in May could face risky invasive surgery at Wellington Zoo after swallowing two large stones.

Manukura, whose picture has been in media around the world, was taken by car to the zoo on Tuesday after staff at the Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre realised something was wrong. The six-month-old female was anaesthetised and X-rayed at the zoo yesterday.

Conservation Department Wairarapa area manager Chris Lester said kiwi were curious and it was not uncommon for them "to swallow foreign objects of all sorts, shapes and sizes". Rangers noticed Manukura had been eating less than usual and her bowel movements were also abnormal.

Normally the sick bird would have been taken to nearby Massey University, which is closer, but the Palmerston North university's veterinary team is in Tauranga aiding the Rena cleanup.

Wellington Zoo wildlife veterinary clinic doctor Lisa Argilla said Manukura had responded positively to intravenous antibiotics.

She would be drip-fed on a meaty high-nutrient slurry until tomorrow when the team would probe her oesophagus with an endoscope to find out if the stones – roughly the diameter of $2 coins – were smooth enough to remove with a non-invasive procedure.

If the stones were jagged, removal through the throat could result in an oesophageal tear.

The next option would be riskier invasive surgery – cutting into Manukura's abdomen, then her stomach to retrieve the stones, then sewing her back up.

"There's always a risk associated with abdominal surgery – if we can get the stones out through her mouth, that would be perfect."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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