Call for koala care funding

Could have been saved: Theo the koala was unable to be saved after being seen to by vets at Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital. Picture: Facebook

Could have been saved: Theo the koala was unable to be saved after being seen to by vets at Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital. Picture: Facebook

Injured koalas in Macarthur could receive speedier care if a Campbelltown Council funding push proves successful.

The council will write to state and federal government ministers seeking the urgent provision of financial assistance to support local veterinary clinics in the treatment of hurt koalas.

Councillor Karen Hunt raised the motion at the most recent council meeting and said koala protection was an issue “close to her heart”.

She said the marsupials were “not as robust as kangaroos” and were more susceptible to serious injuries if they were struck by passing vehicles.

“There are a lot of rescuers out there who would give their last cent to save a koala’s life,” she said.

“Many people give up their own time to rescue these animals at all hours.

“Koala care is a whole of community issue and we need to address means to protect this icon.”

Cr Hunt also wanted to arrange a forum between local “key stakeholders” – including vets, WIRES representatives, rescuers and relevant state and federal agencies – to “identify a viable and sustainable care program fro injured koalas”.

Active Macarthur wildlife rescuer Ricardo Lonza – administrator of the Help Save the Wildlife and Bushland in Campbelltown Facebook page – was fully supportive of Cr Hunt’s suggestions.

As a frequent rescuer, Mr Lonza has seen first-hand the difference immediate care can make to the injured koala’s chances of recovery.

“I picked up an injured koala last weekend, late at night,” he told the council on Tuesday. 

“I had to take it to the only veterinary clinic that was still open after hours.

“There were lots of dogs and cats around which take priority, so I had to wait an hour and a half before we could see the vet.

“Then we went to another vet for tests, and those results will take two weeks to come back. The poor koala, Theo, died in the meantime.”

Mr Lonza said a service providing dedicated koala care could have saved Theo’s life. He would love to see a koala hospital – similar to one in Port Macquarie which he said attracts many tourists – established in Campbelltown.

Cr Hunt said Campbelltown needed to achieve funding assistance as soon as possible to prevent “what happened this weekend from happening all the time”.

“We want to keep our koalas as stress-free as possible,” she said. “If they have to go to vets surrounded by dogs that can cause them stress, and stress can cause them to contract Chlamydia.”

The council unanimously agreed to seek government funding and hold a summit to achieve greater koala protection.