NEWS LETTER Vol.4 2011 October
The Home They Keep Coming Back To
A considerable number of koalas find themselves back at the Moggill Koala Hospital, and one of those is Lunar.
All koalas who are brought to the hospital are implanted with a microchip before being released back into the wild. Each time a koala comes to the hospital the veterinarian uses a sensor to check for a microchip; if they have a microchip, the history of the koala can be checked from the database. While it is upsetting when ‘first-time’ koalas are brought in with severe illness or injury, it is particularly distressing to learn that a koala that you have previously cared for has returned to the hospital again.
Lunar first came to MKH at the end of July, during the peak of the mating season and a time when young males like Lunar are most active. He had been rescued because of infected eyes due to conjunctivitis. However, he was already blind at this point; the opportunity for help had come too late. Surrounded by these unknown creatures called humans, he had no idea that we were trying to help him and became very stressed. Even though our intention was to help him, it was a very frightening experience for Lunar who tried to defend himself, at times becoming very aggressive. It would have been highly stressful even for a koala with sight; for a blind koala like Lunar, the day he was rescued must have been a huge shock.
It is thought that, as long as the habitat is peaceful and safe, even blind koalas can have a solid understanding of their environment and can manage to survive. However, the reality is that if a koala is not only blind, but also old and sick with poor musculature when they are brought to MKH, their chance of surviving for any length of time in the wild after being treated is slim. In Lunar’s case, he was otherwise in good condition and was still young, so he was admitted to the hospital for treatment in the hope that he would recover from the conjunctivitis and be successful when returned to the wild. Time is of the essence when treating blind koalas; it is vital to return them to their original habitat as soon as possible because when placed in an unknown environment, the stress on a blind koala depresses their immunity, and because further urban development can change that habitat. After undergoing eye surgery, Lunar showed improvement every day. Although he never got used to the daily eye drops, he was able to leave the hospital two weeks after being admitted due to the efforts of the carers and his own perseverance.
Then, on the very night that I had just cleaned out the enclosure that Lunar had been in and was thinking, ‘I hope he’ll be alright,’ something happened that tore at the hearts of everyone at MKH...