A native New Zealand bird has been given a luxurious spa treatment at a Palmerston North rehabilitation centre this week.
The morepork, also known as a ruru, is one of six rehabilitation cases at Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery in Palmerston North.
Wildbase hospital and recovery supervisor Pauline Nijman said the staff were very invested in the rehabilitation of the morepork and "go all in" to get them back into the wild.
They had noticed bacteria on one particular morepork's skin, and decided to give him a bubble bath.
"We washed him with a medical soap that surgeons use on their hands, so it kills bacteria. I gave him a wash, like I would do for an oiled bird, focusing on the skin."
"We wash them in a bath at 40 degrees because that's their body temperature and after that he has a nice wee shower to get rid of all the soap suds of his feathers."
"And then he got to sit under the driers for a few hours."
Moreporks, or ruru, are small brown owls found in New Zealand and Tasmania. Nijman said washing them shows just how slight they are.
"There's literally nothing to them, they're all fluff."
"They only weigh about 80g, they are ridiculously small, but they have the attitude of a 600kg animal."
"They're hilarious to work with because they have so much attitude – they click and stand-up and posture, and try and tell you they are the biggest and most ferocious animal you will ever come across."
She said moreporks were starting to come back into urban spaces, and encouraged people to look out for them.
"I think people are really starting to take note and notice that they're in their backyards, which is really cool."
"If anyone comes across a sick or injured native wildlife they should take it to their vet or to a local wildlife rehab, or call the Department of Conservation."