One-eyed Tortuga proves a hit with visitors
Monday 10th February 2014
Tortuga the koala
Tortuga the koala

He may be missing an eye, but that hasn’t hurt Tortuga’s appeal with zoo visitors.

The eight-year-old koala arrived at Taronga Zoo late last year, after surviving a run in with a car near Coonabarabran.

Found by the side of the road, he was brought to Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital with a serious wound to his right eye. While emergency surgery failed to save his eye, Tortuga has otherwise made a strong recovery.

Due to his disfigurement, Tortuga was unable to be released back into wild. Fortunately he found a home at Taronga Zoo’s Koala Encounter, where his gentle nature has proved popular with visitors and female koalas alike.

“He’s a gentle guy. He’s very chilled out and hasn’t shown the aggressive behaviour we often see in our other males during mating season,” said keeper Laura Jones.

Tortuga is currently sharing an enclosure with new mum Lillian and her joey, but keepers are hopeful he’ll be able to father his own joeys when the next mating season begins in November.

"He came a bit late this season to give him a real go, so next summer will be his real test," said Laura.

One-eyed Tortuga was named after the famous pirate island in the Carribbean, after keepers wisely vetoed suggestions of ‘Pirate’ and ‘Captain Jack’.

“I thought ‘Tortuga’ had a bit of flair,” said Laura.

Koalas are often at riskof being hit by cars, particular at night and during mating season when they spend more time moving across the ground.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital manager Libby Hall said Tortuga's story should serve as a reminder for motorists to watch out for wildlife crossing the road.

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