In the Media 2006
Wish for new wildlife hospital at Beerwah
14 March 2006
Caboolture Shire Herald
By Elise Martin
Caboolture Shire is paying a heavy price for progress, with native wildlife suffering most. However, the situation might be far worse for the work of the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Beerwah. Elise Martin reports.
AN increasing number of wild animals needing help has forced staff at the Australian Wildlife Hospital , Beerwah, to consider moving to larger premises.
Senior Veterinarian Jon Hanger said the team saw its location, an old avocado-packing shed outside Australia Zoo, as a "temporary hospital".
"We dream of having a multi-million-dollar facility in the next 12 months on this same site," Dr Hanger said.
"(The current hospital) is not ideal and we want to have a fairly strong educational program at the new one.
"We want to take the public through some areas, perhaps behind glass. That's the most powerful thing about the hospital – seeing things happening and sharing some powerful and educational stories."
Staffed by three full-time and two part-time vets and many volunteers, the hospital offers a free service in a bid to save Australia's dwindling native wildlife numbers.
"We are also a vet service for wildlife carers and we look after the animals at the Zoo," Dr Hanger said.
Dr Hanger said various animals, many in a critical condition, were brought to the hospital by concerned residents and carers daily.
"Most go to wildlife carers once we have seen them, but reptiles and koalas are kept here because there are few qualified carers," he said.
"At the moment we have 50 or 60 koalas, but the busy season is between July and December."
Dr Hanger said the hospital's resident koala, Whistler, had been brought in after a dog attack in Caboolture about 18 months ago.
Twelve operations later, he was on the road to recovery but would never be released.
"Koalas have very tough skin so dogs can do a great deal of damage and the koala dies, yet still looks intact," he said.
"Whistler had a lot of tears around his rump and needed extensive surgery. He is still blind because of brain damage.
"His eyes are fine but the connection from his brain was affected," Dr Hanger said. Hospital Manager Gail Gipp said Slugger the Carpet Python had been shot numerous times with air-rifle pellets when he arrived from Morayfield on February 7. "He has had surgery twice and has more to go," she said.
"He is getting better, but has lead poisoning from the bullets. He is very sick and underweight."
Staff were yet to establish the exact problem with Pebbles the sea turtle, who was brought to the hospital from Fraser Island last month.
Dr Hanger said the turtle was unable to dive due to gas accumulating under his shell. He was extremely thin and his shell faded from overexposure to the sun.