White kiwi Manukura, who made headlines around the world when she hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre in 2011, will turn seven years old on Tuesday, May 1st.
Unfortunately, she will miss her birthday celebrations as she is unwell and being treated at Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital.
Manukura was the first of three-rare white kiwi to hatch at Pukaha Mount Bruce and since 2012, she has lived in the nocturnal kiwi house aviary with her white feathers giving visitors a truly unique experience. Visitors have been known to come from all over the globe to see her while world-renowned and award-winning writer Joy Cowley made Manukura’s story into picture book for young children.
Manukura was first diagnosed by Pukaha rangers with a small beak infection in early February. She was taken to Wildbase Hospital at Massey, where the infection was confirmed. The infection was immediately treated and Manukura returned to Pukaha Mount Bruce. However, after a few days her earlier signs of illness that included not eating and losing weight, returned. It was then discovered the infection had advanced and a decision was made to keep her at Wildbase Hospital for an extended period of time.
Wildbase Professor Brett Gartrell 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. We’ve carried out a range of diagnostic tests including radiographs (x-rays), computed tomography, ultrasound and gastroscopy in addition to the routine clinical pathology and microbial cultures,” he said.
“Manukura has responded well to intravenous antibiotics and supportive care and we are hopeful she will soon recover sufficiently so she can return home to Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. No matter how hard we try to care for her in hospital, there’s really no place like home. We enjoy our partnership with Pukaha Mount Bruce and this care is one we are really pleased to help with”.
The rangers at Pukaha are keeping their fingers and toes crossed that Manukura will recover quickly so she can meet her potential new mate, Frickleton, in the nocturnal kiwi house aviary.
“Manukura is in excellent care at Wildbase,” says Jess. "I know Manukura is in great hands and I am confident in the team and her recovery.”
Frickleton, a North Island brown kiwi, arrived at Pukaha in early February from Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch and can be seen in the nocturnal kiwi house aviary daily. It was intended that after a brief settling in stage, the two would be introduced and live as a pair. But due to Manukura’s illness this has been put on hold.
While Frickleton is patiently awaiting Manukura’s return in the nocturnal aviary,Todd Jenkinson, Pukaha’s conservation manager says there is an upside to the situation.
“In a way, this could work out better for their introduction,” explains Todd. “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.”
At this stage Wildbase Hospital cannot confirm when Manukura will be well enough to return to Pukaha Mount Bruce. Manukura has this week shown some signs of improvement but is still a long way from full recovery.
Jess and the Pukaha team encourage people to visit Pukaha Mount Bruce, which is located on SH2 -15 minutes’ drive north of Masterton and leave Manukura a birthday message in the kiwi house from Tuesday May 1st.
“Manukura is a special taonga, national treasure, and our locals especially, have a real sense of pride and ownership of her,” she says. “I would like everyone to get behind Manukura and send her their best wishes for her speedy recovery.”