Call of the wild

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 11:59 21/09/2012
Brett Gartrell
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ

DRUMROLL PLEASE: Associate Professor Brett Gartrell introduces the Wildbase brand at Massey University.

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Given the perilous state some of New Zealand's native species are in, saving every animal that needs help is crucial.

And now the team at Massey University's NZ Wildlife Health Centre have a new name, Wildbase, to help promote the work they do with New Zealand's fauna.

The Wildbase brand was launched at Massey's Palmerston North campus yesterday.

Director Dr Brett Gartrell said Wildbase treated between 300 and 400 birds on average every year; last year with its role in response to the Rena oil spill and other emergencies, the number was closer to 1500.

With the population of several native species being just a few hundred, and below 100 for some birds, every bird saved meant a better chance for that species, Dr Gartrell said.

"Wildlife recovery can make a difference for conservation, 50 per cent of our patients are from threatened or endangered species."

Wildbase vet and Massey senior lecturer Kerri Morgan said there had been confusion in the past around the name of the wildlife centre. The new brand recognised Wildbase's role, not as a home for animals, but as a location where they were healed and rehabilitated for release, she said.

Massey vice-chancellor Steve Maharey said it was an exciting time for the facility.

It plans to expand its hospital facilities in partnership with Palmerston North City Council to build an extensive rehabilitation centre at the city's Esplanade aviary.

There the public will be able to view animals recovering from treatment at Wildbase's clinic on the Massey campus. Mr Maharey said the new facility would be a boon for educating people about New Zealand's species and conservation efforts. Wildbase had a long history of contributing innovative responses to environmental issues and enhancing understanding of the wellbeing of New Zealand's native species, he said.

"Massey has made a notable contribution to society through deploying staff and expertise in response to natural and man-made disasters in New Zealand and throughout the world."

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