An unlucky kaka shot on Great Barrier Island had surgery yesterday at Auckland Zoo.

Working off x-rays, a team of three vets removed a shotgun pellet from under the skin of the rare native parrot in a straightforward operation.

"The lead pellet was lodged in the bird's back, between the wings. It's lucky it didn't enter the body cavity, otherwise it probably would have been fatal," said Auckland Zoo's vet manager, Craig Pritchard.

The bird was found on the ground unable to fly by one of the island's bird rescue team. It was brought to the zoo three weeks ago and x-rays showed a badly broken wing and the pellet.


Vet Paul Eden decided to operate after blood tests showed the bird, thought to be a male, had a slightly raised lead level.

Because the wing had healed badly after the bird was shot, it is unlikely it will fly again. As a result it will stay in captivity with the zoo's five other kaka.

Mr Pritchard said the bird was probably shot intentionally. Pig hunting is the only type of hunting permitted on the island.

"Hopefully this bird can become a type of ambassador for kaka, helping the public understand more about them and their situation in the wild," said the zoo's head of native birds, Andrew Nelson.

It is estimated there are fewer than 10,000 kaka in the wild in New Zealand, and the number is declining because of to habitat loss, predators and contact with humans.