Beloved, rare white kiwi bird dies in New Zealand after surgery

From the moment Manukura hatched in 2011, everyone at the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre in New Zealand knew she was special.

The North Island brown kiwi was snow white. Her feathers were white, not the usual brown. She was, as far as anyone knew, the only white kiwi hatched in captivity.

She inspired a children’s book and visitors to the facility, as well as conservationists who were wowed by the bird’s rare genetic trait.

But now, the wildlife centre is sharing the sad news of Manukura’s death Sunday after several surgeries to remove a stuck egg.

“Rangers caring for Manukura noticed she was not eating and losing weight in early December 2020,” the facility explained.

She was taken to see specialistist in wild animal veterinary practice.

There’s where they really found the problem.

The stuck egg Maukura couldn’t pass on her own. Photo: Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre

“Wildbase [Hospital at Massey University] vets operated to remove an infertile egg that had become stuck and unable to be passed naturally,” the centre said in a statement. “More surgery was then required to remove her oviduct and most of her left ovary. The surgeries went well but were not enough to save the ailing kiwi whose health continued to deteriorate in the weeks following the operation.”

Manukura died peacefully Dec. 27. Rangers and veterinary staff were present.

Staff said they were sad to lose their “dear friend Manukura.”

“Manukura has had recurring health problems around breeding season for the last few years,” the centre explained. “Each year the situation has become more serious and has required a number of surgeries.”

But officials weren’t optimistic this time.

“She is a tough bird and has bounced back many times in the past, however we are preparing ourselves that this time she may not make it back to her home at Pūkaha.”

Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre is located about 125 kilometres from the country’s capital Wellington.

Manuka was beloved.

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