We’ve been able to use our specialist veterinary skills to assist with health checks of little spotted kiwi.

Shakespear Open Sanctuary is home to pukupuku, New Zealand’s smallest species of kiwi that nearly became extinct in the early 20th century. To ensure the kiwi are thriving, Auckland Council rangers, volunteers and SOSSI (Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Inc) undertake twice-yearly health checks and transmitter changes.

To find the kiwi, the group uses telemetry to locate a signal, and once an area – usually a clump of pampas grass – is pinpointed, the rangers start combing through it by hand to locate the kiwi in the network of tunnels they form in the grass.

Health checks usually involve feeling their body condition; weighing; eye, beak and feet checks; and looking at their whiskers and feathering. In this instance, bloods were also being taken as part of a health screening, which meant Auckland Zoo vet nurse Celine was able to jump in and assist. Celine says it’s a privilege to be able to lend her skills to help the dedicated group acting as kaitiaki for this endemic, near-threatened species.