Willowbank ostrich killed in South Island storm
Ostrich killed during wild Canterbury stormNICOLE MATHEWSON
One casualty from Tuesday's vicious wind storm has been reported - Willowbank Wildlife Reserve's popular ostrich Bubbles.
The reserve suffered ''reasonably substantial'' damage when winds gusting to more than 100kmh tore through Canterbury this week.
Fallen trees destroyed one aviary, and the fence around the otter enclosure was knocked over.
''Luckily it happened at night so everything was locked away,'' spokesman Mark Willis said.
''The otters ended up having to spend 48 hours locked in their inside area because we couldn't let them out, obviously, because of the breach.''
Other animals at the park were unscathed, except for well-known ostrich Bubbles, who died after being frightened by falling debris and running into a fence.
Whares at the Ko Tane Cultural Experience were crushed by trees falling in the car park, but Willis said the park planned to auction the fresh wood on Trade Me to help pay for a new aviary.
''Aside from them, we had a huge number of lucky near-misses. A tree came down and just missed the gibbons cage,'' he said.
Staff managed to clear pathways and hazards quickly to host 70 booked guests by candlelight for a hangi at Ko Tane on Wednesday and Thursday nights before power was restored this morning.
''Everybody had a great time; it looked magical,'' he said.
Willis said staff were now well prepared for emergencies after Canterbury's earthquakes, with backup systems in place to protect the park's kiwis and egg incubation programme.
''I suppose if the last couple of years have taught us anything it is that Christchurch must stay open for business, even in the fact of trying conditions,'' he said.
"The lack of electricity has obviously been a drama. We have a number of kiwi and other eggs under incubation and substantial tourist group bookings to still cater for."
Orana Wildlife Park was likely to remain closed for a few days because of power cuts and debris around the facility.
Spokesman Nathan Hawke said the zoo had had extensive tree damage and McLeans Island Rd was initially blocked on both sides of the park while fallen trees were removed.
"We have been advised that we should plan to be without power for up to five days. No power means electric fences are down, pumps are out, affecting toilets and water in general."
All of the animals were fine and secure, he said.
The wood that fell at the park is being auctioned off on Trade Me to raise funds for a new aviary.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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