23 Sep 2015

Kiwi's death 'bolt out of the blue'

4:11 pm on 23 September 2015

A kiwi who previously survived a karaka berry poisoning has been euthanised after being found paralysed by a visitor to Wellington sanctuary Zealandia.

A little spotted kiwi (photo provided by Wellington's Zealandia)

A little spotted kiwi (not Flip-Flop) in a photo provided by Zealandia. Photo: Tom Lynch

The little spotted kiwi, Flip-Flop, was euthanised at Wellington Zoo after his health deteriorated because of an undiagnosed neurological disorder.

The zoo said tests conducted by Massey University showed Flip-Flop had neurological scarring.

Zealandia spokesperson Matu Booth said the bird was found unwell on the ground in June and was rushed to the zoo's animal hospital.

"He rallied at first... looked as if [he] was regaining some co-ordination but over longer period of time his condition didn't improve," he said.

"He was unsteady, unable to forage for himself. He would fall over quite easily - take quite a while to regain his balance, and that neurological disease seemed to be part and parcel of something that was undiagnosed right to the end."

A little spotted kiwi (photo provided by Wellington's Zealandia)

Little spotted kiwi can be found on Kapiti Island, several other predator-free offshore islands and in Zealandia in Wellington. Photo: Kimberley Collins

Mr Booth said it was not the first sign of trouble for Flip-Flop, who was found convulsing with some kind of paralysis on Kapiti Island, north of Wellington, in 2008

He said the bird was brought to the mainland for treatment and, in the first recorded incident of its kind, was found to have a karaka berry in his gizzard.

"He recovered from that. That caused him neurological damage, which took a long time to come right from."

When he arrived at Zealandia, he was placed in a large enclosure then released to roam freely with other little spotted kiwi.

"There were no signs, no residual signs of that neurological damage. It was a bolt out of the blue."