Posted on 05th November 2019 by Media Relations
Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital have been caring for a young male koala after it was admitted in early October.
The koala is approximately 18 months old and was brought to the Zoo from the Blayney area by a WIRES carer after it was taken to a local vet. The koala that has been nicknamed ‘Lucky’ underwent a veterinary assessment including x-rays that established he had a broken right leg.
“The fracture was a tricky one as it was through the growth plate, which meant if we didn’t get it perfectly realigned it would impact his growth and development in the future,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr Rebecca Robey.
“This would have also impacted his survival in the wild with his ability to evade predators, move around to different food sources and find a mate, potentially compromised.”
“We sort advice from the specialist small animal surgeons at the Animal Referral Hospital in Homebush, Sydney who very kindly offered to do the specialised surgery for the animal,” said Rebecca.
This involved transporting Lucky to Sydney along with a WIRES carer to have the surgery at the Animal Referral Hospital and then transferred back to Taronga Western Plains Zoo for his rest and rehabilitation phase at the Wildlife Hospital.
For the first six weeks Lucky was allowed time to heal in a smaller holding area and then moved to a larger enclosure once it was established the fracture was healing well. Once Lucky moved to the larger area he was able to start some physiotherapy, this involved moving from tree to tree to build up strength in his leg again.
“Lucky is continuing to be monitored and will have another x-ray at the 10 week post-surgery mark. Depending on how well the fracture is healing he may be require to stay at the Wildlife Hospital for another month or two.”
“Lucky’s prospect for release back into the wild are really positive as he is showing excellent mobility and as long as the fracture continues to heal well he will be an excellent candidate to return to the wild,” said Rebecca.
The next steps for Lucky will involve further x-rays and then under advice of the specialist surgeons at the Animal Referral Hospital, the veterinary team at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo Wildlife Hospital will likely remove one or more of the pins under a general anaesthesia. Lucky would then be given time to recover from this procedure before going to a wildlife carer for further rehabilitation to get him ready for release back into the wild.
“It is still a long road to the wild for Lucky but he is definitely progressing in the right direction,” said Rebecca.