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World-first brain surgery performed on kākāpō parrot
The young chick is said to have made a ‘remarkable recovery’ from the surgery.

Endangered chick has made a ‘remarkable recovery’, vets say 

Vets in New Zealand have performed world-first brain surgery on an endangered kākāpō parrot, adapting techniques from human medicine.

The wild-hatched chick, now 60 days old, was born with a developmental problem of the skull.

Rangers from the department of conservation’s Kākāpō Recovery Team noticed an unusual lump on the bird’s skull just after hatching. A CT scan at the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital revealed the plates of the skull had not completely fused.

Professor Brett Gartrell, director of Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital, said: “The chick was hatched with a hole in its skull that allowed part of the brain and dura (the tough barrier around the brain) to herniate out.”

Led by Prof Gartrell, a team of veterinary surgeons and technicians made an elliptical incision around the area and reflected a flap of skin, allowing them to dissect out the herniated dura.

They were unable to reduce the herniated tissue back into the skull so a small piece of brain and dura were clamped and a small square of synthetic mesh was sutured over the open fontanelle. The mesh graft was then infused with bone marrow.

The chick is said to have made a ‘remarkable recovery’ and has been paired up with another chick at the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, to reduce the risk of it imprinting on humans.

Image © Massey University

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.