Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Australian Wildlife Hospital...

I can't seem to leave the zoo... After a couple of weeks volunteering in the animal park, I decided to volunteer a week in the new Australian Wildlife Hospital located on the grounds of the Australia Zoo and sponsored, in part, by the zoo and the Steve Irwin family. The hospital, dedicated a year ago in memory of Steve's mother, Lyn, sees about 10,000 wildlife patients per year - all at no cost to the animals or their rescuers! There is a full-time staff of 26 animal care professionals and four wildlife veterinarians, including over a hundred volunteers donating their time throughout the year.

They have an on-call, animal rescue team that will respond to any wildlife injury within a 50-mile radius. The hospital also works with local volunteer animal rescue groups and individuals as well as wildlife rehabilitators and other caregivers who provide for injured animals throughout the Queensland area. They rescue nuisance crocs, treat sick koalas, save tangled trutles and even rehabilitate injured bats! Today, when we toured the ICU there were a couple of koalas that had been hurt by a dog and hit by a truck, a turtle that had been hit by a car, and a fruit bat with a broken wing.

I was cleaning koala enclosures today, washing floors, replacing eucalytus branches, etc.; there are four koala buildings able to house 50-60 koalas. There are a half dozen orphans that had to be hand-raised because their mums where hit by cars when they were still in her pouch. They are so small and adorable. We try not to interact too much with them because they are released back into the wild as soon as they are able.

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