23 January 2009
This week the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit put their unique skills to use when they abseiled a eucalyptus tree to rescue a koala in Morayfield, QLD. Wooo-hoo!
The Caboolture Koala Care and Rescue volunteers called on the Rescue Unit when they discovered the sick koala, named Les, after the resident who found him, was sitting about ten meters high in the tree - too high for their equipment to reach.
Rescue Unit members Kate Winter and James Muscillo attended the call, surveyed the tree branches for strength and accessibility to the koala, and set about scaling the tree to retrieve the koala, suspected to be suffering of cystitis.
After a physical hand ascent by Kate, and maneuvering around the many branches, the team was able to coax the young male koala down from high in the tree and take it to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment.
"Every member of Australia Zoo's Rescue Unit is an accredited tree climber," said Australia Zoo Rescue Unit coordinator, Kate Coulter.
"Without our ability to climb the tree, the koala would have stayed in the tree or climbed higher and stayed out of reach, and not received treatment maybe even for six months."
Tree climbing is a common occurrence for the Rescue Unit, who received over 230 calls for koala rescues in 2008.
"Not only are we the only dedicated rescue unit operating out of a zoo, we are the only known wildlife or animal rescue unit that climbs trees to save wildlife," said Kate.
"Our ability to do this means that we can get to more koalas and bring them down safely and with minimal stress to the animal so that they can be treated."
Les, a three year old male koala, is being treated for chronic Cystitis and Conjunctivitis - all elements of the highly contagious koala disease Chlamydia - at the Australian Wildlife Hospital and his condition will be monitored over the next couple of months.
The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit operates out of Australia Zoo and is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you see wildlife that you believe needs assistance, please contact Australia Zoo on 5436 2000.
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