The injury was horrific—when the mallard was rescued by a local New Zealand SPCA, the lower half of its bill was completely torn off and broken, leaving its tongue dangling through a hole under its chin.
Check out the incredible photos here and here.
The initial bid to reattach the bill failed, as did four ensuing attempts, but an ingenious medical staff wouldn't give up. On the sixth try, they used 3mm steel wire mesh to reconstruct and attach the duck's bill—success! The duck is eating, putting on weight and, according to observers, acting "feisty."
The operations cost several hundred dollars, which may seem like a lot of money to save one mallard given that it's the world most populous and widespread species; however, a member of the medical staff says that view misses the big picture. This new medical procedure could be used to save injured birds belonging to populations that aren't doing so well.
"For example, if we had a brown teal, an endangered bird, with a similar injury, this is something we could do," said Craig Shepherd, spokesman for the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust.
"If he hadn't been such a fighter and so feisty, we probably would've considered euthanasia," Shepherd said.