Healesville Sanctuary unveils 'koala-ty' new health-check device
The koalas at Healesville Sanctuary are showing a healthy approach to weight management, thanks to a new tool being used by their keepers.
The weighing tool, which provides the koalas with the choice to voluntarily weigh themselves, has been successfully implemented to provide a stress-free method for the tree-dwelling marsupials when undergoing routine health checks.
The new weighing approach coincides with Save the Koala Month this September, which is dedicated towards inspiring and raising awareness about koala conservation.
Koala keeper Craig McQueen said the new tool was already providing fantastic benefits for the koalas at the Sanctuary.
“In the past, when we’ve wanted to weigh the koalas, we’ve had to physically pick them up and pop them onto the scales. But we’ve recently implemented a new stress-free approach,” he said.
“We’re now using a custom-designed tool which has a scale placed on top of a table, and a perch set up on top of the scales. It’s lightweight, so keepers can shift it to where the koalas are sitting, and encourage them to voluntarily pop over onto the perch for weighing.”
Mr McQueen said the new method had been working well, with the Sanctuary’s eight koalas responding to it with great success.
The new weighing method is one of many that keepers are implementing at Healesville Sanctuary, as they strive for continuous improvement in animal welfare by creating positive and least intrusive approaches with animals.
“Nearly all of the koalas at Healesville Sanctuary have now engaged with the new tool,” he said. “They’ve all been really comfortable sitting on the perch versus being placed onto a scale by a keeper.
“Sometimes keepers will use a little bit of the koala’s favourite food to help entice them over, but other times they will come over because the perch has scents of other koalas, and they are curious of the different smells.”
The new method is one of many that keepers are implementing at Healesville Sanctuary, as they strive for continuous improvement in animal welfare by creating positive and least intrusive approaches.
Koalas are classified as vulnerable in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with their numbers decreasing as a result of deforestation and drought.
Anyone can learn more about Zoos Victoria’s conservation work with native threatened species by visiting zoo.org.au/fighting-extinction. You can also show your support by donating at zoo.org.au/donate.
You can visit the koalas up-close at Healesville Sanctuary for Save the Koala Month, or any other time from 9am-5pm seven days a week.