by Wildlife Carer Rachel Aspinall
The most obvious and visible situation where an animal is in need of assistance is usually when one is encountered lying injured on the side of the road, or deceased but with young in the pouch. However, not all wildlife in need of rescue is so convenient and easily accessible!
Koala rescues can be particularly challenging, since sick or injured koalas are not always sitting on the ground waiting for someone to come pick them up. Scared, stressed and in pain, they will usually follow their instinctive reaction to go somewhere safe, away from potential predation while they are weak. Naturally, this is usually high up in a tree.
Recently I received a call from a concerned resident, Kellie, who sent me a photograph of a koala that didn’t look so well. She noticed him on the ground as they drove past originally, and went back later to check on him and he had climbed up a tree. Kellie kindly met with me to show me exactly what tree the sick koala was in.
As the koala was too high in the tree and the weather too wet for tree climbers to retrieve him, a koala trap was set around the base of the tree. It took a couple of days, but eventually he came down and set off the trap. A neighbour kindly checked that it was the koala inside the trap and I was able to take him safely to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
The hospital accepts native animals 24/7, so even though it was late at night he could immediately access the care that he needed. Kellie had the privilege of naming the koala – and she chose Anzac, as this was the day he came into care. Anzac is now in Intensive Care at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital and I hope that he can return to his home in a few months.
It’s hard to overstate the incredible value Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital provides to the community in the form of wildlife care and rehabilitation, and anyone who brings in a sick or injured native animal, or an orphan, can count on them receiving the best of care no matter what time of day they’re brought in. If you rescue an animal close to the zoo, your best bet is to head straight there!
Koalas aren’t very commonly spotted, so we rely heavily on community reporting to let us know where there is a koala in need of assistance. Please help us watch out for sick koalas!
In addition to physical injuries from car impacts, dog and cat attacks or run-ins with the hooves of grumpy cattle and horses, chlamydia continues to be a blight upon the koala population.
Signs of chlamydia are conjunctivitis, which causes a build-up of tissue around the eyes or a wet and dirty bottom. Sometimes this is hard to differentiate from a wet bottom from the rain and tree staining. It is always a good idea for experienced koala rescuers to assist in identifying a case if you are unsure.
Koalas almost always move between trees at night, and when they do, they move quickly. If you see a koala on the ground during the day and staying there, moving in an unusual way or you have any other concerns based upon what you know about koala appearance and behaviour, please call for assistance. We’re always happy to help.