Skeleton crew for wildlife hospital

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Patient discharged . . . Dunedin Wildlife Hospital Trust manager Jordana Whyte releases a gull after it received treatment at the hospital earlier this year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Dunedin Wildlife Hospital is battening down the hatches for the Covid-19 lockdown, with just a skeleton crew working to care for the animals.

Wildlife Hospital Trust manager Jordana Whyte said planning had kicked into high gear when the country reached Level 2 at the weekend.

“We decided to stand down all of our volunteers, as well as Otago Polytechnic vet nursing students and work experience placement students,” Ms Whyte said.

Classed as an essential service, the Wildlife Hospital will be staffed by two vet teams throughout the Level 4 restrictions, each team comprising a wildlife vet and nurse.

“Our two teams will be very busy, as at this time of year our penguin ward is full count we have about a dozen penguins in hospital.

“And those penguins can be a real handful feisty birds.”

Fortunately, the Wildlife Hospital’s forest bird ward was quiet at present.

While it was a relief to be able to continue caring for the animals, the vet teams would really miss the volunteers, Ms Whyte said.

“The social aspect of working alongside volunteers who are so passionate about these animals means a lot to our vet staff.

“They will really miss them.”

Ms Whyte, who started the new role of Wildlife Hospital Trust manager late last year, was concerned about the charity’s finances as the Covid-19 crisis continued.

“It is not clear how well our sponsors, most of which are small to medium-sized independent businesses, are weathering the storm.

“So we are trying to come up with innovative ways to carry on fundraising online.”

People who wish to continue following the progress of animals recovering at Dunedin Wildlife Hospital will find regular updates at facebook.com/dunedinwildlifehospital