13 July 2015
After garnering worldwide attention when images were released of Phantom the koala joey cuddling up to his mum Lizzy for comfort during her surgery last month, the famous koala duo from the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital have now been released back to the wild near Ipswich in Queensland, where they were originally found.
Lizzy was hit by a car and taken to the RSPCA Queensland for life-saving emergency surgery, with little Phantom miraculously unharmed in her pouch. The pair were then brought to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for treatment and rehabilitation last month, with Phantom clinging to Lizzy for support during her treatment and check-ups to help heal the chest trauma and collapsed lung she suffered as a result of the accident.
Fortunately, Lizzy's condition continued to improve every day, and last week Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital vets cleared both koalas for release due to their clean bill of health. Lizzy was tagged and microchipped in preparation for the release.
Phantom and Lizzy's story has certainly made an impact on staff at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, RSPCA and people from all over the world. Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr Rebecca Millers, has been treating both Phantom and Lizzy since they were first brought into the hospital and was delighted to witness them make their way back into the wild.
"There's nothing more rewarding than achieving a successful rehabilitation for these two beautiful koalas. They weren't with us for long but in the short time we had them, we all fell completely in love with this adorable pair," said Dr Millers.
"Phantom was very affectionate; clinging to his mum for comfort during her procedure, but soon after, Lizzy was the one doing all the cuddling. We hope they continue their loving relationship as they settle back into life in the wild," she said.
"There were grave concerns for Lizzy when she came in but thankfully she was able to be stabilised," said RSPCA Qld Wildlife Coordinator Lee Pirini.
"Sadly, great outcomes like these do not happen often enough and with trauma season just around the corner it is paramount that organisations such as Australia Zoo and RSPCA QLD work closely together to achieve the best possible outcomes for all wildlife. I would personally like to thank the vets and nurses at Australia Zoo for their support and expertise and of course we look forward to working together on future cases as they arise," said Lee.
As we approach trauma season - the busiest and most confronting time of the year - Australia Zoo's Wildlife Hospital staff are getting ready for an influx of koala admissions. From August to February, similar koala cases to that of Phantom and Lizzy peak, with animals being more active during the warmer weather and sustaining injuries caused by car accidents and domestic animal attacks.
With over 100 koalas in care at any one time during busy seasons and an average of 70 - 80 koalas coming through the hospital every month, our work has never been more important.
Koala treatment can cost up to $5,000 per koala. Every donation goes a long way towards helping the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital save lives and create positive outcomes for patients just like Phantom and Lizzy. To donate or learn more, go to: www.wildlifewarriors.org.au
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