A young takahe that almost died from a near-fatal infection, has spent its first night in the wild.
Auckland Zoo, with the Rotoroa Trust and Department of Conservation (DoC) released 4-year-old female Kuini and its younger male mate Anzac, a breeding pair, onto Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf yesterday.
Kuini was at the Burwood Bush Takahe Rearing Unit near Te Anau when it became sick and was flown to Auckland Zoo by DoC staff in April, where it received treatment in intensive care.
Anzac tested positive for chlamydia on arrival at the zoo so had to be medicated before it could be given the green light to go to the island.
Auckland Zoo vet centre manager Dr James Chatterton said they were amazed with Kuini's recovery and it is now in great health.
"Kuini's journey from near-death back to health is pretty miraculous. She remained collapsed and barely conscious for the first 36 hours, and we thought the odds of her pulling through were extremely low," Dr Chatterton said.
The birds will join takahe pair Teichelman and Silberhorn, which were released onto the island last May as part of DoC's Takahe Recovery Programme, which aims to establish 90 breeding pairs of takahe at safe sites throughout New Zealand.
Ian Fraser, field conservation manager at Auckland Zoo: "We were worried that the newcomers might fight with the resident pair, as takahe are very territorial.
"We left a staff member out there who said they have come in contact and three of them were seen grazing on grass together, happily"
Takahe are critically endangered, with just 280 worldwide.