20 January 2010
On Tuesday, January 19, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors - Australian Wildlife Hospital received a koala joey that presented very quiet, thin, and dehydrated with difficulty breathing. Immediate assessment revealed that he required further investigation.
The joey was quickly anaesthetized and assessed by one of the vets at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. He was found to be significantly underweight, dehydrated and had considerable respiratory problems requiring intubation and assisted ventilation.
After emergency stabilisation, x-rays were taken. These revealed, unbelievably, two slug gun pellets in his body, one located in the chest and one in the abdomen.
With significant internal blood loss associated with his injuries he also required an immediate blood transfusion.
The joey, named Doug after his rescuer, will require surgery to remove the pellets and repair the associated damage once his condition stabilizes. He is currently receiving intravenous antibiotics, fluids, supplemental oxygen, and pain relief. His situation is still critical.
Doug's mother, named Meryl, was also brought in to the Australian Wildlife Hospital. She was given a full assessment upon arrival, including full body x-rays, which revealed a slug pellet, identical to the ones found in the joey, located in her right leg.
Surgery has been performed on Meryl to remove the pellet and her condition is currently stable.
Gail Gipp, General Manager at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, assures the public that everything possible will be done to provide them with the best veterinary care.
"Whilst Meryl's condition is not life threatening her infant Doug is in a critical condition and will require intensive monitoring and care in the coming days," Gail said.
"We are stunned to see this kind of animal cruelty. It is extremely sad that somebody would want to shoot a koala, especially when their population is already in serious decline."
The Department of Environment and Resource Management is investigating the incident. Anyone with information should call DERM on 1300 130 372, or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
It's against the law to harm koalas - the maximum penalty is $300,000 or two years imprisonment.
Staff at the Australian Wildlife Hospital urge the public to call their emergency wildlife phone on 1300 369 652 for all wildlife emergencies.
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