Beak infection forces rare white kiwi away from home on her birthday

Manukura. Photo credit: Supplied

A rare white kiwi will miss her birthday celebrations after an infection landed her in hospital.

Manukura will turn seven on Tuesday, but she will be unable to be with her friends at home in Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre on the day.

Birthday cake will be given out to visitors at the centre, white balloons will be hung everywhere and visitors will be asked to write birthday messages for her on sticky notes at the kiwi house.

Unfortunately she's instead at Massey University's Wildbase Hospital hooked up to intravenous antibiotics hoping to beat a nasty beak infection.

The infection was first caught by her keepers at Pukaha in February, but it has proven difficult to treat.

"We suspect the initial beak infection to be the entry point for bacteria into her blood stream and that she has had widespread infection in multiple locations since," says Wildbase Professor Brett Gartrell.

"We've carried out a range of diagnostic tests including radiographs (x-rays), computed tomography, ultrasound and gastroscopy in addition to the routine clinical pathology and microbial cultures."

She's been responding well to the intravenous antibiotics and there are hopes she will be able to return home soon, although it will be after her birthday.

"No matter how hard we try to care for her in hospital, there's really no place like home," Prof Gartrell says.

The centre hopes once she arrives home she will be able to meet a potential new mate, Frickleton, who recently arrived from Christchurch.

Her illness may have even made things easier by allowing Frickleton to get used to his new home.

"With Manukura being away, Frickleton may well decide the nocturnal aviary is his turf meaning that when Manukura returns, it will be much more like how it is in the wild," Todd Jenkinson, Pukaha's conservation manager says.