Lifestyle

Savage attack lands koala in hospital

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital senior veterinarian, Dr Amber Gillett dresses Peta the koala's wounds.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital senior veterinarian, Dr Amber Gillett dresses Peta the koala's wounds. Ben Beaden

PETA is lucky to be alive.

The three-year-old female koala is recovering at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital after being viciously attacked by a pack of dogs near Kallangur.

The small koala was no match for the five dogs which inflicted two broken legs, deep puncture wounds to her legs and abdomen and ripped off half of her right ear.

The Zoo's wildlife veterinarians said it was the worst case they had seen of a mauled koala, but Peta was expected to make a full recovery.

This time of year is dubbed "trauma season", when koalas are on the move looking for a mate in the breeding period.

A record 836 koalas were brought to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital between January and September.

In comparison, throughout all of 2011, 833 koalas were admitted.

Senior veterinarian Amber Gillett said koalas were most vulnerable during the breeding period of July to December.

"Often wild dogs are thought of as being the attackers. However, sadly, almost all of the dog-attack victims we see at the wildlife hospital have been attacked by dogs who have owners," Dr Gillett said.

A total of 93 koalas were admitted to the wildlife hospital last year as a direct result of domestic dog attacks.

"There is no doubt both loss of koala habitat and developing infrastructure impact severely koala populations, but when you combine the effect of disease and trauma on top of this, the outcome in certain south-east Queensland koala populations is devastating," Dr Gillett said.

She hoped sharing Peta's case would encourage pet owners to be mindful of koalas and act responsibly.

"It's as simple as being mindful of where your pets are and what they are doing," she said.

"Keeping dogs inside or tied up at night - or when owners are not around - particularly during koala breeding season, can drastically reduce the risk of attack.

"We can live side-by-side with koalas but it's up to us, the public, to be responsible for what our pets do to these animals and to do what we can to prevent harm."

If you find injured wildlife, phone the Australia Zoo on 1300 369 652 or WILVOS on 5441 6200 or the Koala Animal Rescue on 0423 618 740.

 

Zoo hospital by the numbers

  • Car strikes are the biggest reason injured wildlife is admitted to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Domestic dog or cat attacks are second
  • More than 100 koalas may be in care at any one time
  • About 70 koalas come through the hospital every month
  • The average cost to treat an animal is $150, koalas cost $1200 each
  • 7515 native animals were admitted to the zoo hospital in 2011
  • Up to 65 animals across 11 species may be admitted to the hospital on a single day

Topics:  attack, australia zoo wildlife hospital, koala


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