We’re happy to share that a precious pāteke found injured on Aotea (Great Barrier Island) in late December that has been with us for over a month in the intensive care of our veterinary team, was this week returned back to the island and back to full health - albeit minus one toe! 

When this rare endemic duck was discovered on the side of the road between Okiwi and Glenfern, underweight with a badly injured left foot, he was taken to local Karen Walker’s bird rescue facility, and she cared for him for several days until he could be flown to Auckland and transported to the Zoo – thanks to Fly My Sky and the SPCA.

As our X-ray photo shows, this ducks middle toe had a nasty fracture that meant this toe required amputating. Once at the Zoo, with surgery, medications and intensive care, including the injecting of anti-fungal medication into one of his favourite foods (meal worms!) in time the fracture in his medial toe healed, his weight and mobility improved, and swimming practice last week confirmed he could still swim.  Now back with Karen, he’ll soon be released to the wild, where we hope he’ll go on to breed and help ensure this taonga’s future.

The pāteke, a ‘Near Threatened’ small dabbling duck in decline, remains Aotearoa’s rarest waterfowl on the mainland. You can discover pāteke in our Te Wao Nui Wetlands and Forest aviaries. With conservation partners, we’re also breeding pateke for release to safe areas in the wild. So far this season, we’ve released ten chicks, and have five more in quarantine ahead of their move to Isaacs Conservation and Wildlife Trust.