On May 28th, a member of the public found a disoriented koala mother with a joey in her pouch in Woodenbong, northern New South Wales. The koalas were taken to the Friends of the Koala hospital where our International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)-sponsored vet team conducted thorough health checks.
Tests revealed the adult koala, named Venus, was completely blind due to chlamydial conjunctivitis and has significant trauma to one eye. Despite losing her sight, and being about 12 years old – which is very old for a wild koala – Venus is in good condition and is carrying a healthy pouch joey named Cupid.
Cupid is about five months old and is underweight for his age. Our IFAW-sponsored vets are supplement feeding him to aid his growth and recovery. Venus is also being fed extra leaf so she can maintain her milk supply for Cupid. Her eyes are also being treated but while her swelling has reduced, she isn’t out of the woods yet.
“We are so thankful to the member of the public, who knew to call our rescue hotline. Without her sight, Venus was incredibly disorientated and vulnerable on the ground,” IFAW-sponsored superintendent vet Jackie Reed said.
“If we hadn’t rescued her, she would have died from either a dog attack, car hit or eventual starvation.”
IFAW Animal Rescue Program Officer Nicole Rojas-Marin said koalas in New South Wales are already up against a lot – which is why every koala we rescue and rehabilitate matters for the conservation of the species.
“Finding an adult koala of that age in the wild that is blind and carrying a pouch joey really is incredible,” Ms Rojas-Marin said.
“It’s so important that injured or sick koalas get immediate treatment which is why our support of the vet team and our partnership with Friends of the Koala is critical.”
Next steps for Venus and Cupid
Our IFAW-sponsored vet team hope through their treatment, Venus will regain sight in at least one eye. Koalas can be released back into the wild with one eye, so there’s hope for Venus. The vet team will continue monitoring her health to see how she progresses.
The vets will continue to help Cupid gain strength so he’s the correct weight for a joey and will release him back into the wild when it’s time for him to leave his mum.