Paradise Park

Wildlife Sanctuary • Cornwall

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Bill the Kookaburra succumbed to kidney disease

Unfortunately not every story can have a happy ending.

Kidney disease (also known as renal disease) is a common condition in some companion species, especially cats, and can also be seen in birds.

Bill and Bong the Kookaburras by Paul Hall Vet Blog
Bill (right) with Bong the other free flying show kookaburra.

Thousands of people have enjoyed the big personality of Bill the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) at Paradise Park. In 2018 it was noted that he was showing signs of lameness and on exam was found to have small white swellings developing around the joints of his toes. We were concerned that he may be suffering from gout so a blood sample was taken.

Gout is a condition where uric acid forms in body tissues. In birds and reptiles, uric acid is excreted by the kidneys and forms the white component of droppings. When the kidneys are not functioning correctly, uric acid builds up in the blood and then precipitates out into tissues. The uric acid crystal that form in the tissues cause inflammation and pain in joints and can damage other organs.

Sadly, there is no permanent reversal for gout or kidney damage once they have developed. The prognosis depends on the degree of kidney damage and comfort of the patient. Supportive treatment such as increased fluids are the mainstay of care but generally the outlook is poor.

We increased Bill’s fluids by soaking his food and injecting water into larger pieces. He was started on pain relief and medication to prevent further uric acid crystal formation but it was expected that his lifespan would now be short.

Bill defied our expectations and responded very well to his supportive care.  For the following two and a half years he continued on his increased fluids and we had no cause for concern.

Kookaburra Bill at the Free Flying Bird Show
Bill continued to take part in the free flying shows.

This brings us to autumn of 2021 when Bill started to have a reduced appetite and became lethargic. Another blood sample was taken and as we had feared his kidney parameters had increased dramatically.

Vet Blog information Bill

Blood results showing very high uric acid levels suggestive of renal failure.

We knew the prognosis was poor but with supportive care he made an initial improvement and started to eat for himself.

Bill the Kookaburra vet blog
Bill in a brooder while receiving supportive care.

Unfortunately this was short-lived and after a couple of days he deteriorated again and passed away on Wednesday 6th October.

At 18 years old he was a very good age for his species and surpassed all our expectations once he was diagnosed with gout thanks to dedicated care. His keepers and many visitors will miss him a lot.

Read Bill’s story buy Keeper Kirsty Snoxall HERE

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