Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bushfire koala victims under round-the-clock care

Stressed from severe burns to its claws and feet, this koala has become a symbol of hope and survival in the wake of the damaging Eyre Peninsula bushfires. Two koalas are receiving round-the-clock treatment for burns suffered in the Tulka bushfire and could soon be joined by more injured animals as they are rescued during the massive clean-up.

They are being cared for at the Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organisation's rehabilitation centre at Torrens Island at a cost of $130 a day. However, cost is not a factor for the carers, who expect to be housing new guests for some time yet. President Aaron Machado says he expects more koalas suffering burns to be flown to Adelaide after seeking refuge in smouldering trees during the bushfires.

"There are a lot of (koalas) out there that we've had information are up trees and they're not coming down," Mr Machado said. "They're in a lot of pain and they're just not moving." Treatment for the two koalas involves keeping them hydrated, soaking their feet in a sterile solution to prevent infection and dressing and wrapping claws individually.

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"Every six hours they need medication, they need a lot of supplements, they're dehydrated, they lose a lot of fluid out of the burns and a lot of heat," Mr Machado said. "We need to keep them climate controlled and we need to keep them comfortable with medication." If they recover, the koalas are expected to remain in care for at least two to three months, after which carers will decide whether to release them locally or back on the Eyre Peninsula.

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