This has been an incredible week for our vet hospital team, keepers and volunteers at Auckland Zoo, and our amazing conservation partners Kākāpō Recovery, to see our last four remaining patients return to their island homes with a clean bill of health!

On Monday Toiora and Huhana-2-A-19 returned home and yesterday adult kākāpō Margaret-Maree and juvenile Kuihi-2-A-19 were flown back to Whenua Hou as VIP Air New Zealand passengers.

An original ‘founder’ bird, Margaret-Maree arrived at the Auckland Zoo Vet Hospital early last year for assessment by our vet staff as it was suspected, and later confirmed via CT scans and blood tests, that she was infected by the deadly disease aspergillosis. Watch this Stuff interview with Auckland Zoo vet Dr An Pas discussing the crisis here.

Juvenile Kuihi-2-A-19 was also found to have aspergillosis and after being successfully treated at Auckland Zoo she returned home in August last year. After inhaling a small amount of food on the island she came back to the zoo for further care and is now ready to return home. Our vets describe her as a lovely bird who is very tolerant of her treatments and easy to handle.

Throughout 2019 our staff helped our partners assess the health of 50 birds on the mainland, and 50 on their offshore islands during the aspergillosis crisis. A total of 21 birds were confirmed with the disease across Aotearoa and we’re so pleased to have been able to care for so many of these precious taonga.

This was an unprecedented time in Aotearoa’s history – caring for the unprecedented amount of chicks born this season as well as caring for ill birds - that we are proud to be a part of with Kākāpō Recovery. This resulted in increasing the number of kākāpō from 148 birds in 2018 to an incredible 211 today. We want to thank you for all of your support over this period and we’ll keep you posted on future kākāpō news!