The hospital is the first specialised wildlife hospital in the South Island and will have the capability of treating up 500 patients a year once it is fully operational.
The need for this type of hospital was highlighted in a 2017 report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that identified 80%of native species are at risk of extinction. Co-chair of the Wildlife Hospital Trust, Steve Walker, said “we are delighted with the arrangement. Given that we are a recent start-up Charitable Trust, this shows the belief the Highlanders have in our mission and confidence that the community will get behind the Hospital to help keep it funded.”
The hospital is hosted at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Veterinary Nursing and admitted their first patients on Monday 15 January, two adult yellow-eyed penguins that had unfortunately sustained what looked to be barracouta bites. Both underwent surgery and it is hoped they will recover and be released back to the wild soon.
Highlanders General Manager of Commercial and Marketing, Amelia Kininmonth, hoped that this community partnership would assist the Wildlife Hospital with its initiatives, highlight the asset a Wildlife hospital is to the community and assist with fundraising “we view ourselves as very much part of the local community, and we want to help make our home town a better place. This community partnership is one of a number of activities and events we want to associate with in the future”.