No break over Christmas for wildlife hospital

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Hungry patients will need to be fed and the injured will still need treatment at Wildlife Hospital Dunedin on Christmas Day.

Since it opened in January, the hospital has appeared regularly in The Star, both through news stories and the monthly “Wild Life” column by hospital trust secretary Jordana Whyte.

While specialist wildlife vet Dr Lisa Argilla and wildlife vet nurse Angelina Martelli enjoy a break over Christmas, patients will be in the caring hands of vet nurse Emily Brewer and wildlife vet intern Lizzie Thomas.

“We are hoping for a quiet Christmas Day without too many extra patients – we want our wildlife to stay healthy and uninjured,” Miss Brewer said.

The Christmas Day menu will be varied, as the current crop of in-patients include kereru, kea, kaki, gulls, and several varieties of penguins.

It has been a busy year for the wildlife hospital, which has treated more than 350 patients from 42 species – 39 bird species, 1 reptile, and two marine mammal species – since it opened in January.

This week, Miss Brewer has marked six months at the hospital, which she said had been a very rewarding experience.

“I am still learning a lot every day, but am feeling more comfortable with my skills in dealing with the wildlife, including the penguins,” she said.

Mrs Thomas, an experienced general veterinarian, recently joined the hospital team and is delighted to be expanding her wildlife skills.

An exciting year lies ahead for the Wildlife Hospital Dunedin team, with confirmation this week a new five-episode Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ) series based on the work of the hospital, Wildlife Rescue, will start production in 2019.