Vets at Auckland Zoo are trying to save the life of a young kiwi attacked by a dog that was rescued by a hunter in Coromandel.
The female bird named Jo by staff underwent surgery on Thursday.
Veterinairan An Pas put the bird under anaesthetic with an improvised mask made from a long syringe to fit her beak, but said it was touch and go whether it would survive the attack.
Ms Pas said that is because even though the dog bite from a fox terrier looks small, there is extensive damage to the tissue and the vets must decide whether it is too cruel to keep treating the bird.
The Department of Conservation said dogs are the number one killer of kiwi. It says they find it hard to resist going after the birds, so people should keep them away from kiwi habitats.