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Manukura’s birthday blues

Rare white kiwi Manukura is hospitalised while her beloved Frickleton waits at home. PHOTO/ SUPPLIED

It’s a Kiwi love story that could play out on ‘Shortland Street’, if it didn’t involve two actual birds.

Frickleton, a brown kiwi from down South has crossed the Cook Strait to meet his new mate at Pukaha Mount Bruce.

But his partner-to-be, the beautiful white kiwi, Manukura, is too ill to greet him.

Manukura was diagnosed with a beak infection by Pukaha rangers in February. She travelled to Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital where she was treated and discharged with a clean beak of health.

She returned to the nocturnal aviary but days later, symptoms of the infection returned.

Manukura was not eating and was losing weight.

The decision was made to send her back to Wildbase where she would be checked in for an extended stay.

Professor Brett Gartrell of Wildbase says Manukura’s infection has been difficult to treat, as they have not been able to pin point the exact location of the infection.

“We suspect the initial beak infection to be the entry point for bacteria into her blood stream and that she has had widespread infection in multiple locations since.”

Wildbase carried out tests including x-rays, ultrasounds and gastroscopy and more to figure out how to successfully treat Manukura’s illness.

Mr Gartrell said Manukura was responding well to antibiotics and the hospital was hopeful she could be well enough to return to Pukaha.

“No matter how hard we try to care for her in hospital, there’s really no place like home.”

Worse, Manukura will likely spend her seventh birthday in hospital.

Back at Pukaha, conservation manager Todd Jenkinson saw a silver lining.

“In the wild, a male kiwi will call a female into his territory. With Manukura being away, Frickleton may well decide the nocturnal aviary is his turf meaning that when Manukura returns, it will be much more like how it is in the wild.

“In a way, this could work out better for their introduction.”

Wildbase Hospital cannot say when Manukura may be well enough to return to the nocturnal aviary. She has made good progress, but the road to a full recovery was long.

Until then, her betrothed Frickleton waits patiently for the day Manukura comes home.

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