17 March 2012
Almost six months after suffering horrific burns in a bushfire, Rian the koala has been released back into the wild.
The tiny marsupial was rescued by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit from high up in a tree on North Stradbroke Island in October last year, almost two weeks after a controlled burn off left her with singed eyelids, ears, foot pads and fur. Her nose, now missing the species' distinctive black pigmentation as a result of the burns, was also badly affected.
Rian spent almost half a year in care at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital under the watchful eye of Dr Amber Gillett, who describes her as a "beautiful koala" that she was excited to see back in the wild.
"The ideal part of our job is to release animals back into the wild," Dr Amber said. "We're very happy she's recovered."
Along with the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit, Dr Amber accompanied Rian back to North Stradbroke Island on Wednesday to farewell the brave little koala as she returned to her natural habitat.
Rian was fitted with a GPS radio tracking collar for staff to monitor her movements and check her recovery in coming months.
It is hoped that Rian will soon have young of her own, with a healthy male koala spotted in the area a potential breeding mate.
Dr Amber and staff from the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit and Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital would like to thank the community and supporters from around the world who have followed the progress of Rian and donated to her recovery, as well as the 80+ koalas in care at the wildlife facility.
If you would like to help koalas just like Rian successfully return back to the wild please donate to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. We couldn't do it without your generous support www.everydayhero.com.au/event/wildlife