Zoo saves prions

Two hundred young sea birds survive at Wellington Zoo

By Alan and Helen Tristram

July 26, 2011

Wellington Zoo workers have managed to restore 200 juvenile prions to full health and they’ll soon be released into the wild.

When we visited the Zoo the 200 prions were happily preening themselves in a process that restores their natural waterproofing.

These young birds – and tens of thousands more — fell from the skies ovcr the Kapiti Coast,and as far north as Taranaki, in  a huge southerly storm two weeks ago.

They were hungry and exhausted. Most died, but hundreds were rescued by local people and some 600 were taken to the hospital at Wellington Zoo.

Wellington Zoo's 'Warm Room'

A nd 400 or these birds perished.

But the others, hand fed and sheltered in ware surroundings, were gradually restored to health.

Kate Baker, media adviser, says it’s hoped the the birds can be released at a Wellington beach next week — or, if that isn’t possible, the week after.

Earlier story – prions released

On Saturday, July 16, 300 rescued birds which had been sheltered and fed at the Kapiti SPCA were ferried out to the seas near Kapiti Island and released to fly home.

The young broad-billed prions had been rescued by Kapiti people and taken to the SPCA a few days earlier.

Others were rushed straight to Wellington Zoo.

They were sheltered, fed and restored to health;and  then volunteers from HUHA (Helping You Help Animals) took them to Coastguard boats at Waikanae and Paraparaumu for the voyage to a spot near Brown’s Island off Kapiti.

It had been a long journey from their nests in the Marlborough Sounds and outer islands for the young birds.

They left home to feed in Cook Strait, but were unable to fight their way back against the massive southerly storm.

Finally, after two or three days battling, and being swept steadily north, they fell out of the skies, hungry and exhausted.

Then of thousands died, but many hundreds were rescued by good Samaritans and taken to animal shelters — the SPCA north of Waikanae, bird shelters in the Capital, and the Wellington Zoo Hospital staff.

At sea near Kapiti Island, HUHA volunteers helped launch the prions on their homeward journey.

The birds seemed fit again after their ordeal — and they were given an enthusiastic farewell by Kapiti Coast Coastguard volunteers who manned the two launches which took them out to sea from Paraparaumu and Waikanae beaches. All in all, it was and impressive effort by Kapiti Coastguard members and the two HUHA women from Kaitoke.

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