Natureland Zoo (Nelson, NZ) plays an important role locally in re-habilitating injured native wildlife and staff are often called upon by the Department of Conservation (DoC), SPCA and local people to assist injured native birds. Species with which staff have worked include kereru, tui, owls, kingfishers, fantail, silver eye, shining cuckoo, pukeko, quail, little blue penguins, shags, petrels, shearwaters, gulls, cape pigeon, kea and fairy prion. Some examples of the types of situations Natureland Zoo staff members face include:
- Native chicks dislodged from their nest.
- Native birds hit by an object, usually cars
- The zoo is often involved in the rehabilitation of battered seabirds. For example broad-billed prions, generally found on the Antarctic Antipodes Islands, the South Island Coast and in the Marlborough sounds This particular species is quite challenging due to their method of feeding as they filter feed as opposed to feed on fish.
- The Natureland Vet also deals with dog attacks on native birds. For example Little Blue Penguins. Birds are usually found by members of the public with the first point of contact with DoC. Often a one parent bird is killed leaving chicks alone. The first response is to leave chicks in the nest in the hope that the other adult would be nearby and return. DoC may later decide that specialist care is required and ask Natureland to assist. Often the focus is on feeding the adult bird (on fish provided by New Zealand King Salmon) so the parent bird can gain sufficient energy to feed the chicks. The vet will a temporary burrow and pond within an enclosure. Once ready the birds are released back to their nest site.
- Other examples of cases include a young male Kea handed in to the zoo by a member of the public. The bird which was found near Lake Rotoiti had a badly broken leg as a result of being caught in a trap. He had also lost a lot of condition due to not being able to feed properly. The Kea underwent surgery and the broken leg had to be amputated. Natureland Zoo staff members rehabilited the bird.
- A young bellbird chick was also handed to Natureland Zoo by member of the public. The bird was almost ‘naked’ of feathers and just had the beginnings of pin feathers. The bellbird was reared by a keeper back to fully feathered/ fledged and released back to its habitat.
Natureland Zoo and its staff are committed to re-habilitating local native wildlife and supporting DoC in their essential role. Natureland Zoo is operated by Orana Wildlife Trust, a registered charitable trust.