15 Jan 2018

Dunedin wildlife hospital admits its first patients

2:13 pm on 15 January 2018

A specialist wildlife hospital opening its doors in Dunedin today has already had its first patients - two hoiho.

One of the hoiho being treated.

A hoiho being treated by Wildlife hospital staff in October, before the facility opened. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

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.

Dr Lisa Argilla with one of the hoiho.

Dr Lisa Argilla from the wildlife hospital, with a hoiho she treated. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

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.

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