Clinging to a plush toy in the absence of his mum, Shayne the koala joey is just one of the many innocent victims of this year's Trauma Season; the busiest, most confronting time of year at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
During the warmer months of the year, from August to February, animals are moving around more; potentially looking for a mate or dispersing from their mother's territory. This, unfortunately, leaves them more vulnerable to crossing paths with our rapidly expanding urban areas, often being admitted to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital as a result of being hit by a car or attacked by domestic animals as they traverse across the ground. Thankfully, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is Australia's largest koala treatment facility and our koalas are given the best care.
Shayne the koala joey and his mum were two such koalas on the move. Hit by a car in a 70km per hour speed zone, Shayne's mum was unlucky; her trauma injuries were severe and she was killed instantly. When rescuers arrived at the scene, they noticed she was lactating; a sure sign that her joey wasn't far away.
Only 9 months old, Shayne was riding on his mum's back at the time of the accident and was thrown off from the impact. Poor Shayne was left to fend for himself, and that's exactly what he tried to do. Shayne was found about 20 meters from his mum being chased by crows.
Dr Rosie Booth, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Director, says Shayne is one of the lucky ones.
'Shayne has no injuries as a result of the accident, instead, he's dealing with the loss of his mum and the vital life lessons he needs to learn in order to become an independent, wild koala," said Dr Rosie.
'It's very fortunate that we had an observant rescuer who found Shayne and brought him into us because he wouldn't have lasted even a day in the wild by himself at his young age"now he gets a second chance at life," she added.
Shayne is now with a dedicated wildlife carer where he gets constant attention, comfort and food around the clock. Once he is of acceptable weaning age and weight, Shayne will return to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to learn essential climbing and social skills from other young koalas before being released to the wild.
With over 100 koalas in care at any one time during busy seasons and an average of 70 – 80 koalas coming through the hospital every month, our work has never been more important!
Trauma is one of the leading causes of admission to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, second only to disease. However, unlike disease, trauma injuries to our wildlife are something we can all help to treat and prevent.
Driving safely through wildlife populated areas and taking notice of signage sounds simple but being aware in areas where wildlife are often spotted near the roads can help reduce the potential for trauma injuries occurring. Keeping pets secure at night will also reduce the risk for many hundreds of wildlife animals each year.
Treatment for our injured Aussie icons particularly doesn't come cheap costing upwards of $5,000 per koala due to their highly complex biology. With hundreds of koalas and other wildlife species from both the land and sea expected to be admitted during trauma season, every donation helps Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors save the lives of those in need.
DONATE TODAY: www.wildlifewarriors.org.au
Photo credit: Ben Beaden / Australia Zoo