Rare injured albatross released back into wild after Wellington Zoo treatment
A one-eyed albatross rescued near Wellington Airport has been treated and released back into the wild - hopefully in time to find love.
The injured Toroa Northern Royal Albatross, one of the world's largest sea birds, had been receiving care at Wellington Zoo after it was found with a sore eye on the Moa Point coastline almost a fortnight ago.
The big bird, which is classified nationally vulnerable by the Department of Conservation, had arrived at the zoo with a very low body condition and a deep injury to its eye when it should have been winging its way on for breeding season.
"The injured eye was too damaged to recover, so it was removed during a procedure to prevent the risk of infection.
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"The bird recovered well from eye surgery and has gained weight and strength, so we're glad to be able to release it back to the wild," Amanda Tiffin, veterinary practise manager at the zoo's Nest Te Kohanga, said.
The Toroa was returned to the wild on Tuesday with help from the Wellington Maritime Police unit, who gave it a lift out to sea - as the bird usually needed a long run-up on the water to achieve flight.
Toroa are rarely seen in Wellington, as they nest in the Chatham Islands and in the Otago Peninsula.
They range through the southern oceans, covering great distances of up to 190,000km a year, and usually mate for life even after long separations at sea.
"If this Toroa already has a mate, they return to the same nesting area each time they breed, so we're hopeful it will be able to find its mate again," Tiffin said.