Based in East Lismore, we operate the only dedicated Koala Hospital in the region in addition to running an Education and Administration Centre and a Community Nursery. Our Koala Hospital treats more koalas than any other koala hospital on the East Coast of Australia and offers 24/7 care with a veterinary team sponsored by IFAW including Dr Jackie Reed, Superintendent Veterinarian, Dr Jodie Wakeman Veterinary Research and Clinical Director, Marley Christian Vet Nurse, Dr Alex Brandon to cover leave and busy periods and Liz McLeod Assistant Vet Nurse.
Our hospital allows us to rescue, complete a full veterinary check-up, to vaccinate and release healthy koalas as soon as possible. Rescued koalas are assessed by a vet generally within 24 hours, which significantly reduces stress for koalas. Each year we rescue approximately 350 sick, injured and orphaned koalas in NSW. We are incredibly proud and grateful that we are able to run a hospital where koalas can receive the best treatment from people who are experts in all aspects of koala health and management. It is important to recognise that different animals require different treatment and the expertise our vets and nurses have accumulated through exclusively focusing on koalas is priceless. There is a big difference between a Koala Hospital and a generalist Wildlife Hospital, somewhat like a specialist doctor and a general practitioner.
Our Koala Hospital has been in operation since July 2020 and is fully equipped with a range of diagnostic, surgical and medical equipment required to treat disease conditions and injuries affecting koalas.
The Friends of the Koala Hospital is fully equipped to diagnose and treat disease conditions and injuries affecting koalas. Onsite diagnostic equipment allows us to undertake digital radiography, ultrasound, complete in-house blood, body fluid, urine, and faecal analysis and a range of other pathology testing.
Our highly qualified koala veterinarians perform surgical procedures and treat complex medical cases, ensuring the best possible outcomes for koala patients when they need us most.
What treatments do koalas receive at the hospital?
Treatments vary depending on the reason for rescue but most commonly, adult koalas are treated for chlamydial disease or for injuries resulting from car hits and dog attacks.
All koalas are anaesthetised and given a full examination on admission to the hospital. Depending on their individual needs, koalas may require surgical procedures or medical treatments such as antibiotics and pain relief medications. An ongoing treatment plan is developed by the veterinarian and patients are then cared for by volunteers in the Koala Care Centre until they are ready to be released back into the wild.
Orphaned koala joeys may not require surgical or medical intervention, but they are often the most intensive to care for as they require constant monitoring and regular supplement feeding by dedicated joey carers.
What’s next for our Koala Hospital and Care Centre?
After the devastating 2019-20 fires, WWF helped us buy much needed equipment and in conjunction with state and federal government support, helped fund our hospital and facility expansion. Site works have begun and we look forward to the transformation of the grounds. With the support of WWF, we are undertaking a masterplan development project for our site in East Lismore. FOK’s rescue and rehabilitation work is aligned with WWF’s mission to support local koala populations to double over the next 30 years and the current funding allocation will deliver a more functional hospital and care facility to provide critical support to koalas in the region. We are designing the facility in a responsible, accessible, and sustainable way, with final revisions of plans underway currently. The hospital extension will have a sterile surgery suite and four ICU rooms, a necropsy/research room, and a laundry/leafing area at the end of the building. These new facilities will also serve as public education and interaction areas.