Zoos Victoria's vets not only work across three zoos treating animals in our care – their work extends well beyond our walls, helping animals in the wild and responding to emergencies of all kinds.
Saving wildlife is not what we do, it's who we are.
It is with your support that this ongoing care is possible – thank you.
Vet care in action
Responding to the 2020 bushfires
After Australia's ferocious fires of 2020, nearly three billion animals are estimated to have tragically lost their lives. In response, Zoos Victoria's vets and vet nurses – led by Healesville Sanctuary Senior Veterinarian, Dr Leanne Wicker – were on the ground in East Gippsland and at our Australian Wildlife Health Centre, working hard to treat and save injured koalas and other wildlife.
In late 2020, 14 koalas rescued during that devastating time have finally returned home.
Since then, the team at Werribee Open Range Zoo have treated 49 koalas, and Zoos Victoria vets have been in the field undertaking health checks on those released.
The generous donations during this time have, and continue to, make a huge impact on caring for wildlife.
Young koala, Miranda, came to Werribee Open Range Zoo’s vet hospital with her mother in December 2020. Sadly, her mother had to be euthanised due to advanced metabolic bone disease. Zoos Victoria worked with an amazing koala carer who took Miranda into her care to complete her hand-rearing.
Whilst there, Miranda presented with a swollen eye that would not improve with routine medications. Eye tests unfortunately came back as positive for Chlamydia Pecorum and, as a result, Miranda required hospitalisation.
Young Miranda was treated with weekly antibiotics. During her treatment Miranda developed and displayed gut discomfort, so for two weeks she was fed specially formulated ‘koala milk’ twice daily. She then switched to eucalypt leaf paste for four weeks with the extra support of syringe feeding, all while being hand fed with eucalypt leaves.
During her treatment Miranda had eight anaesthetic procedures to investigate her gut health and received intravenous fluids to aid her recovery. Miranda’s care involved weeks of intensive care and specialist nursing.
Marine Response Unit caring for marine wildlife
Our talented teams can work with koalas one day, and marine animals the next. The Marine Response Unit is Victoria's first dedicated marine unit, responding to calls for assistance – any time, any day – on the frontline in Victorian waters.
With the help of the Marine Response Unit, a young seal was recently given a second chance in the wild after treatment and rehabilitation at Melbourne Zoo. The Australian Fur Seal was rescued after it was found injured and malnourished at Port Fairy in south-western Victoria.
Marine Response Unit coordinator Mark Keenan says the seal was carefully monitored for several days before the decision was made to intervene; "its left eye was injured, and it was rubbing this injury repeatedly on a rock. It was a skinny, young seal and looked to be in quite some pain."
The young seal was brought to Melbourne Zoo's veterinary centre for treatment, and spent a fortnight rehabilitating in the care of our vet team. During its stay, the seal put on seven kilograms and vets were able to successfully treat its eye injury. Melbourne Zoo Head Vet, Dr Michael Lynch said staff fed the seal fish via a special tube, to prevent the seal from associating humans with food; “it was vital to keep the seal as wild as possible, so we were careful to minimise our contact with the seal during its time at Melbourne Zoo.”
Melbourne Zoo worked closely with wildlife authorities at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Victorian Fisheries Authority to ensure the seal has been given the best chance of thriving in the wild. After two weeks of care, the Marine Response Unit and Parks Victoria staff released the seal back into the water at Cape Otway. Mark Kennan said, “rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing a wild seal...is the most satisfying feeling, that we have actually made a difference in this animal's life.”
The seal now has flipper tags so it can be identified and have its movements traced, to help maintain its wellbeing from a safe distance.
Make your tax-deductible gift matter
From koalas to seals – and everything in between – our vets can’t do their amazing work without your support.
We know that there is an growing need for emergency wildlife care in the western region of Victoria. Due to increased fire-threat, urban sprawl and rising community awareness about the veterinary services we provide, the amount of animals treated under our care – just like Miranda and the young seal – has increased by a staggering 650% over the past five years.
With our generous partners RSPCA Victoria, we have plans to improve our veterinary facilities for sick and injured koalas (and other precious wildlife), and to equip our team of wildlife-experts with greater resources to respond to emergencies – but we need your help.
Your donation can contribute to this cause and help us secure a future rich in wildlife.