New Zealand’s first wildlife ambulance

Port Otago has boosted its support of the Wildlife Hospital Dunedin by supplying a new electric Nissan e-NV 200 van as a Wildlife Ambulance.

Hospital Trust Manager Jordana Whyte says staff have previously used their personal vehicles for animal transport and hospital-related activity. "We will use the van to transport our patched-up patients back to freedom in their native habitats. On occasion we also need to treat patients out in the field, such as sea lions, and in particular having a van is useful to haul all of the necessary field equipment."

Jordana says the vehicle being electric is brilliant. "We always keep radios off and any talking to a minimum when we’re transporting animals, so it’s great to have the vehicle itself quiet, too.

"Moreover, it really fits with our sustainability ethos, which is one of our core values."

Since the hospital opened two years ago, Port Otago has committed $15,000 annually towards underwriting a vet nurse salary. But Chief Executive Kevin Winders says it was clear the hospital’s success meant operations were under real pressure.

"We wanted to do more – something that would substantively help the hospital and its hard-working team. As it happened, we were beginning to upgrade our fleet of light vehicles to electric and, after speaking with the hospital team, a dedicated ambulance seemed a perfect fit. From both a practical and wider environmental perspective, it’s ideal that the van is electric."

Port Otago is covering all of the van’s associated costs, leaving hospital funding available for its core activity of treating and caring for wildlife.