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Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria collaborate to build new koala hospital
Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria are collaborating to build a new, $1.84 million veterinary facility for sick and injured koalas and other precious wildlife.
The koala hospital will be built at Werribee Open Range Zoo, with $1.3 million coming from generous donations made to RSPCA Victoria during last summer’s devastating bushfires. The remaining costs will be funded through Zoos Victoria.
Construction of the facility is slated to commence in early 2021 and a large eucalypt browse plantation has already been planted that can provide a critical food source for koalas and wildlife while they are in care.
The koala hospital will be constructed to allow Zoo visitors to see staff undertaking their wildlife conservation work and help foster care and respect for wildlife.
Werribee Open Range Zoo’s location, facilities and scope for expansion position it as the ideal home for the new medical facility. The Zoo is located in the heart of Melbourne’s west, a bushfire-prone region with significant wildlife and koala populations. The new koala hospital will treat wildlife from the western regions of the state and complement the existing wildlife hospitals at Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo.
Once complete, the new hospital will increase the Zoo’s capacity to care for koalas, native birds, reptiles and mammals in Victoria’s western regions by up to 400%. It will also equip Zoos Victoria’s team of wildlife experts with greater resources to respond during bushfire emergencies.
RSPCA Victoria Chief Executive Dr Liz Walker thanked the charity’s bushfire appeal donors for making the new hospital possible and said she looked forward to combining the expertise of the RSPCA and Zoos Victoria to change the face of wildlife care in Victoria.
Dr Walker advised “we’re very excited to be partnering with Zoos Victoria to build a new, state of the art koala hospital for Victoria – made possible by the generous donors who supported our bushfire appeal last summer. With our joint expertise in animal welfare and wildlife care, we will increase the capacity to care for koalas and other vulnerable wildlife populations in Victoria’s west and across our state, during emergencies and at other times.”
Zoos Victoria Chief Executive Dr Jenny Gray said she was excited to join forces with RSPCA Victoria to bring this really important project to life and added “we’re thankful for RSPCA Victoria’s generous support. This alignment will allow us to provide expert, compassionate care to more sick, injured and bushfire-affected wildlife in a region where we are seeing this need grow year on year.”
The announcement follows last summer’s devastating bushfire season where Zoos Victoria’s veterinary teams treated and rehabilitated bushfire-affected wildlife, and RSPCA Victoria deployed its Mobile Animal Care Unit and support staff to triage locations. Both organisations continue to actively support communities and animals through the recovery.
There is a strong need for emergency wildlife services in the western region with the number of koalas and other injured wildlife requiring treatment increasing by a staggering 650% over the past five years. This increase is attributed to urban sprawl in the region and rising community awareness about the medical services that Werribee Open Range Zoo’s vets provide for wildlife.
This latest partnership between Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria builds upon a strong existing relationship. In 2018, the organisations jointly launched Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife, an initiative that provides cat owners with advice, tips, and tools to help their felines live a happy life indoors – enabling local wildlife to freely roam and flourish.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is temporarily closed to members and visitors, but the Zoo’s animals cand be viewed at homethrough Zoos Victoria’s live stream cameras at www.zoo.org.au/animals-at-home.
30th April 2019 - Zoos Victoria ban all single-use plastics
8th March 2019 - Zoos Victoria responds to record number of marine wildlife callouts
3rd August 2020 - Australian Reptile Park announces successful koala breeding season
11th July 2020 - Evacuated koalas return to upgraded enclosure
17th February 2020 - Clever detection dogs track down both threatened koalas and rare plants
9th January 2020 - Aussie Ark secures wild protected sanctuary for koalas
8th December 2019 - Queensland Government announces new plans to protect koalas
16th November 2019 - Taronga Conservation calls for urgent funding to address emerging koala crisis
26th February 2019 - NSW Government to boost Koala population and improve national park access
11th December 2018 - Improved mapping leads to better outcomes for koala habitat
7th September 2018 - Land clearance to cause Koala extinction in NSW by 2050
18th July 2018 - Gold Coast City Council looks to boost local koala habitat
7th July 2018 - Australian Reptile Park welcomes record koala breeding season
12th June 2017 - $3.3 million revamp for Brisbane’s Daisy Hill Koala Centre
26th June 2015 - NSW koala conservation area threatened with logging
8th August 2013 - Ballarat Wildlife Park calls for help in feeding its 16 koalas
30th April 2012 - Koalas to be listed as threatened amid rapid decline
28th September 2011 - Koala inquiry calls for vulnerable status
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