A little koala joey’s life began in tragedy, but it’s not going to end that way.
According to Australia’s Werribee Zoo, the baby koala, now about 7 months old, arrived at the zoo this summer, after falling out of a tree in a plantation logging area.
The joey and the baby’s mother were rescued from the site by a wildlife carer, but unfortunately the mother koala had to be euthanized due to her severe injuries. This left the joey orphaned and alone during a time where it should’ve been in its mother’s pouch.
Instead of giving up on the baby animal, the wildlife carer brought the joey to the Werribee Zoo, where their team of vets worked to save the 1-lb. baby.
“It was really touch and go when she was brought to us,” Werribee vet nurse Jess Rice said in a statement. “She was just at the stage where she would have been starting to poke her head out of mum’s pouch. Joeys that size don’t have a good survival rate in care.”
The zoo treated the joey’s fractured arm, by putting the baby in a tiny cast, and put her on an around-the-clock feeding schedule. The motherless marsupial also received a stuffed animal to cuddle and bond with during the time when she needed a comforting touch the most.
“Bonding and company is really important to a joey of that age,” Rice added. “Koala joeys are often given toys to provide comfort and teach them how to hang off the fur like they would with their mother.”
thanks to the help from her dedicated zoo team, the joey is putting on weight and is growing into a healthy koala. She is now back in the care of the wildlife carer who originally brought the baby to the zoo, and will likely be released into the wild in another year or so.
Getting this joey back to her original habitat is important to the zoo and animal lovers across Australia, especially since koalas are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss and disease.