Wildlife rehabilitation is a hugely important factor in oiled wildlife response, without which species treated would have little chance of survival upon their release back into the wild. With advice from the team at Wildbase (a New Zealand wildlife healthcare centre that provides wildlife treatment after a marine oil spill), it was decided that a rehabilitation pool would become the key component in the development of this rehabilitation habitat.
Time is of the essence in oil spills response and wildlife rehabilitation. As such, DR.POW was designed to be deployed rapidly while providing a pleasant experience for both the user and the wildlife being treated. To deploy, the user connects a hose to a decanting valve located at the base of the pool. As the membrane fills with water and expands, the telescopic-frame expands with it. Once the frame reaches a certain point of expansion, the cover arms that are under tension release themselves, erecting the cover of the pool. The self-deploying nature of this pool allows for rapid deployment of multiple units at once.
The built-in cover is another important component. Besides preventing shore birds from escaping, using a clear mesh netting for the cover allows the user to easily monitor the species being treated, while allowing the wildlife to observe their surrounding environment. The pool is fitted with a water jet system that not only keeps fresh water circulating, but also disrupts the surface tension of the pool, thus encouraging the birds to dive. Diving is crucial as it helps the wildlife replenish the hydrophobic coating on their feathers and prevents hypothermia. The water flows through an overflow port, which is then pumped through a filtration system before being circulated back into the pool.
DR.POW is transported in a durable crate to location. The crate has a removable trampoline bed that becomes a night-time pen for the wildlife to rest and recover. DR.POW can be deployed rapidly by anyone from a local volunteer to a head research technician. It offers a safe environment for the wildlife to recover in and provides a user-friendly experience in a stressful situation.
Nga Pae Mahutonga - The School of Design, Massey University, New Zealand