e.van revolutionaries
Meet the Wildlife Hospital, Dunedin.


The Wildlife Hospital e.Van

The Wildlife Hospital, Dunedin provides veterinary hospital care for a wide variety of wildlife from across the South Island. They treat more than 500 native animals a year, including yellow-eyed penguins, kiwi, takahe and kākāpō. Their patients range from tiny 6g warblers to 400kg sea lions and they treat everything from shark bites and bacterial infections to broken wings and dehydration.

They’ve been able to send more than 80% of their patients back into the wild where they belong. An amazing result by international standards.

Jordana Whyte, manager of the Wildlife Hospital Trust says one of their core values is sustainability. “A lot of our patients, particularly critically endangered seabirds like hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins, are affected by climate change. We don't have much time to halt their slide to extinction on the mainland. So we want to be part of the solution wherever we can.” When one of their corporate sponsors, Port Otago, offered to support them with a vehicle, electric was the obvious choice. The Trust was soon the proud owners of a Nissan e-NV200 to transport their furry and feathered patients. The hospital’s decision to Join The Electric Revolution is a big win for the environment, but it’s also a win for their finances.

“As a charity, ensuring we’re spending money in the most efficient way is hugely important. Fuelling the e.van costs a fraction of our past petrol costs. Plus, it’s a dream to drive – quiet, smooth and loads of room for all our supplies.”

The Trust often have patients flown in from Canterbury or the West Coast, who need the e.van to pick them up from the airport. “Occasionally we have to treat patients in the field, like sea lions or albatross. It's great to have a van to haul the gear we need for those trips.” Jordana gives a lot of talks in the community about the work they do and often their giant plush spokespenguin, Giles, comes along. “He always rides shotgun with his seatbelt on. It’s funny to watch other motorists’ faces when they spot him.”

Since driving an EV, Jordana’s been surprised by the kinds of questions she gets, “Does it go up hills? Can you drive it in the rain? Um, yes and yes! It's not a toy car, nor does it have a problem with weather!”. Jordana also believes that for most people, battery range isn’t an issue. “If you start thinking about your own driving habits – tracking the distance of all your trips, say for two weeks - I bet you'd find that all or almost all of those trips could be done in an EV with a fairly basic range.”

The e.van is out and about a few times per week, mostly in the local Dunedin area. “Our staff use it on grocery runs quite a bit, you wouldn't believe how much fresh produce our forest bird patients can burn through - and I wouldn't like to face the vet team if they have run out of coffee or Milo.” When they have shy patients like kakī or takahē, they head to the local plant nursery to load the e.van up with tussocks and grasses for their enclosures.

Despite the occasional misconception, she is optimistic about the future of EVs. “I feel like it can only get better from here. There are more choices of car types, and bigger ranges coming out all the time. The number of charging stations has really grown in the last few years, especially here in the South Island. Businesses and individuals in Dunedin seem to like EVs, as well. I've seen more and more of them around town.” Jordana’s right. Dunedin is our EV Capital with the highest proportion of electric vehicle ownership of any major New Zealand city.

We’re guessing not many Dunedin EVs have a giant penguin in the passenger seat though! Keep up the wonderful work Wildlife Hospital.

If you’d like to learn more or donate to support the wonderful work of Wildlife Hospital, Dunedin go to www.wildlifehospitaldunedin.org.nz/donate or check them out at @dunedinwildlifehospital on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


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