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Entangled Platypus lucky to be alive

5 August 2014

Rubbish in waterways is a big threat to Platypus and other wildlife. Last week, the Australian Wildlife Health Centre at Healesville Sanctuary treated a Platypus who had been brought in by wildlife carers after she had been found crossing a main road.

Donna the Platypus was found on Donna Buang Road, East Warburton and was picked up by a local family who called wildlife carer, Porscha Juwa from Tindara Wildlife Shelter. Finding a Platypus on a road was unusual, so Porscha brought her straight to the Sanctuary to be checked out by the expert veterinary team.

Veterinarian Dr Franciscus Scheelings, a vet nurse and former Platypus keeper Ian Elton together discovered Donna had a hair tie around her body and entangled fishing line wrapped around her neck. Despite these alarming finds, Donna was a very healthy Platypus, weighing in at 828g. She was untangled and microchipped for Melbourne Water to keep track of her before being released into the Yarra River late Thursday night.

“Although this story has a happy ending, pollution in our waterways can cause grave harm to our wildlife,” Mr Glen Holland, Healesville Sanctuary’s Director said. “When rubber bands, hair ties, loom bands and other plastics get washed into our waterways, thousands of animals suffer from entanglement and ingestment, with only a small proportion of injured animals ever found. Please remember to put your rubbish securely in the bin to help save our species.”

Donna the Platypus is just one of the 1,500 animals brought to the Wildlife Centre each year. Many are victims of human activity, impacted by road trauma and habitat loss. Others are found dehydrated and exhausted from extreme weather conditions. Some, like Donna, are suffering the effects from being entangled or have ingested plastics and other rubbish. 

Experts are concerned Platypus populations are declining through habitat destruction, and from litter and detergent phosphates making their way into rivers. You can help us fight extinction by donating to the Australian Wildlife Health Centre or by Adopting an Animal.