29 Nov 2017

Unleaded kea back on an even keel

7:52 pm on 29 November 2017

Two kea treated for lead poisoning have recovered and been released back into the wild in Arthur's Pass.

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Kea in a file photograph. Photo: supplied

The kea, Wanaga and Kerewa, were seen vomiting, and tested positive for lead poisoning at the end of October. The birds were driven to the South Island Wildlife Hospital in Christchurch by a local police officer who sang to the birds on the trip after advice that it would keep them calm.

Kea can get lead poisoning from chewing on lead nails and flashings on older houses and huts.

Laura Young from the Kea Conservation Trust said the birds fully recovered.

She said the birds were up to a good weight, have nice rounded keels - at the front of the breastbone - and their kidneys were functioning well.

Dr Young said the kea would be released at Arthur's Pass, far from the roads.

The kea were given EDTA chelation treatment, medication which binds to the lead and it then passes in their urine.

Dr Young said each bird was given three rounds of the treatment. This meant five days on and then two days off with lead levels and kidney functions tested in between each round.

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