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Rare New Zealand white kiwi dies after surgery to remove lodged egg

Manukura, a rare white kiwi, was hospitalized when caretakers noticed that she wasn't eating and had lost weight. Photo courtesy Environmental Conservation Organization/Facebook
Manukura, a rare white kiwi, was hospitalized when caretakers noticed that she wasn't eating and had lost weight. Photo courtesy Environmental Conservation Organization/Facebook

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- A rare 9-year-old white kiwi living at a wildlife center in New Zealand has died after it had surgery to remove an infertile egg that became stuck inside.

The North Island kiwi, named Manukura, became part of the Pukaha Wildlife Center family and gained worldwide attention in 2011 when she was the first white kiwi ever hatched in captivity.

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"It is with great sadness we announce the loss of our dear friend Manukura," said a message Sunday on a memorial Facebook page for Manukura.

"For now we will all grieve but in the coming days our minds will turn to how we honor Manukura, and what those options may be."

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Pukaha officials took the white kiwi to Massey University's Wildbase Hospital after noticing that Manukura was not eating and losing weight. Pukaha General Manager Emily Court said veterinarians performed additional surgery once they removed the egg.

"More surgery was then required to remove her oviduct and most of her left ovary," Court said.

"The surgeries went well but were not enough to save the ailing kiwi, whose health continued to deteriorate in the weeks following the operation."

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The rare white kiwi inherited her white feathers from a rare genetic trait from her parents, both North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) from Little Barrier Island.

"Manukura is very much a part of the Pukaha family and we have always felt so blessed to have Manukura to help us to tell the Aotearoa's conservation story," Court added.

"The incredible team at Wildbase did everything in their power to save her but it was her time to go."

The kiwi was the first of three white kiwi hatched at the center nearly a decade ago. Manukura had surgery to remove stones in 2011 when she was just a few months old, and UPI reported in 2012 that she'd been paired with a male mate for breeding.

Kiwi, flightless birds that are the smallest members of the ratite bird group, are native to New Zealand and the North Island kiwi's eggs are the largest of any bird species in the world -- often comprising up to 20% of the mother's weight.

Kiwi can live for between 25 and 50 years.

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