A specialist wildlife hospital opening its doors in Dunedin today has already had its first patients - two hoiho.
Based at Otago Polytechnic's School of Veterinary Nursing, the facility will be used to treat up to 500 sick and injured native animals each year.
The hospital is being run jointly by Otago Polytechnic and The Wildlife Hospital Trust.
Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said the hospital would save precious native birds and marine mammals, and provide great learning opportunities for students.
Not all of the hospital's specialist equipment has been installed yet, but animals were being admitted as of today.
At least one was injured by a sharp-toothed barracouta.
Hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguins, are endemic to the Otago coast and their numbers have been plummeting in recent years as they have faced disease outbreaks, dog attacks, and the effects of climate change.
The idea for the hospital was first put together by veterinarian Lisa Argilla, who said having facilities in the South Island would dramatically improve the chances of survival for local wildlife.
She said it increased the chances of survival for hoiho by about 30 percent.