Inside the demanding role of a Koala Care Coordinator
Care Coordinator Susannah holds koala joey Frazer while Dr. Camille listens to his breathing.
Arranging the best care for rescued koalas is a huge job. “Some days it can be crazy with koala after koala coming in,” says Susannah Keogh our Care Coordinator. Susannah manages the care of 300 koalas brought into our Care Centre annually, but last year a spike in admissions saw 430 koalas in need of help from carers and veterinarians. Woefully, only one in six is fit to return to the wild, so the Care Coordinator’s role is charged with difficult decisions.
“It’s always a joint decision and never made by just one person, even the vet”. With a wealth of practical experience gained rapidly over six years, working in close consultation with specialist koala carers, veterinarians and hospital staff, and with thanks to incredible mentors, Susannah is guided by doing what is best for each koala. “It’s really sad. It’s part of the care we have to give, and the responsibility of giving them what they need is never easy when it means ending their life.”
It is tempting to think euthanising a koala may be the toughest part of the job, but it can be tougher explaining such decisions and complexities surrounding koala suffering to those involved. Furthermore, “dealing with naivety in terms of what koalas need can be frustrating,” says Susannah. Recently a small joey was found by a person who kept it at home for a week and feeding it on cow’s milk thinking this was the right thing to do, but the joey died as a result.
Although a thankless role at times, the rewards are great – friendship, learning and most importantly, successful releases. “Once you’re involved with koalas and learn how difficult they can be, talking to someone else who really understands, and revelling in the joys of a koala release is wonderful” says Susannah.