Miracle kiwi chick survives ground-breaking beak surgery

A kiwi chick born at Queenstown's Kiwi Birdlife Park just seven weeks ago has miraculously survived two rounds of surgery to correct a mal-positioned beak. The female chick, who weighs just 594 grams, has hit the headlines and stolen the hearts of the public after being born on October 7. The yet-to-be-named chick underwent a fully-assisted hatch once park staff realised it wasn't able to hatch itself as it was mal-positioned - similar to a breach birth in humans - as it had its foot caught over its head which meant that it was unable to kick free of its shell unaided. Once born, it was also apparent the chick had a miss-aligned beak which would hinder feeding and thus inhibit the growth and potential survival of the bird. Upon hearing of the young kiwi's plight, the team at Massey University in Palmerston North offered to assist and suggested a new technique being developed by the veterinary surgeons at the university's Wildbase Hospital. Kiwi Birdlife Park manager Nicole Kunzmann decided to send the chick, which is part of the park's national breed-for-release programme, north for the surgery as it was "extremely precious to the park". She said: "The chick is even more special as it was hatched from a fresh egg and these eggs tend to have a hatch rate of less than 5%. The egg had to be incubated artificially from day one as the father, Tamanui, wasn't incubating it." Travelling courtesy of Air New Zealand in the main cabin with a seat all to itself, the chick certainly turned the heads of passengers and crew as it made its way safely back from Palmerston North. Led by Wildbase director Dr Brett Gartrell, the team performed corrective surgery on the bill tip of the kiwi with great results. Dr Gartrell said: "This little chick is only the third bird to have this surgery and in some ways this was the most difficult to bring back into alignment, as the tip of the lower bill had not only deviated sideways like the end of a hockey stick, but had - New Zealand - Thursday 4th December 2014 (4 Pictures)


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