Lifestyle & Belief

New Zealand: rare white kiwi bird survives surgery (VIDEO)

kiwi_bird_surgery_10_31_2011.jpg

Kiwi birds (Apteryx australis), unique to New Zealand, are highly endangered and can't fly. These kiwi chicks are being checked by a biologist as part of a captive breeding program.

Credit:

TORSTEN BLACKWOOD

A rare white kiwi bird — the only known white kiwi in the world — has survived surgery to remove stones stuck in her gizzard.

BBC News reports that rangers at a New Zealand wildlife center had noticed the six month-old chick, named Manukura, was not eating.

X-rays showed that two stones were lodged in Manukura's guts, the BBC says. While kiwis swallow stones to help them digest food, it seems this chick had swallowed stones too large to pass.

In two operations at Wellington Hospital, vets used lasers to break up the stone. According to the Dominion Post, there was a tense moment during the surgery when Manukura's heartbeat weakened. Emergency medicine had to be injected to speed the bird's heart back up.

Wellington Zoo vet Dr. Lisa Argilla described the stone to the Dominion Post:

"It looked pretty tiny when you pull it out but with the size of the bird, I guess you could compare it to a human having eaten a golf ball." 

Manukura is a North Island Brown Kiwi, and is not an albino but a rare color variation. She is believed to be the first all-white kiwi chick born in captivity.

The bird will recover over the next week before being returned to the Pukaha Mount Bruce national wildlife center in Wairarapa.

Watch an introductory video of Manukura the white kiwi as a younger chick: