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29 May 2012

Lunar the female Leadbeater's Possum to begin Healesville Sanctuary's captive breeding program had her first ever vet check at Healesville Sanctuary today.

Examination took place under general anaesthesia at the Australian Wildlife Health Centre to assess her health.

The specialist veterinary team gave her a thorough health examination and blood samples were collected. She was also micro-chipped.

The Leadbeater's Possum faces extinction due to loss of habitat and the severe impact on the species following the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

The male founder was located a few weeks ago in Yellingbo and Healesville Sanctuary Director Glen Holland said he was settling in beautifully.

"We've been monitoring him closely and nocturnal video footage shows him eating well and exploring his new environment," Mr Holland said. Threatened Species specialists located the suitable female and, once vets give her a clean bill of health, the pair will become the first in a dedicated captive breeding program to provide hope for the survival of the species.

"Conservation interventions are never simple and Australia has the worst species extinction record in the world," Mr Holland said. "We have a huge responsibility in playing such a critical role in fighting extinction of this amazing critical endangered species, Victoria's faunal emblem."

The threatened Leadbeater's Possum is unique to Victoria, occurring nowhere else in the world. It lives in hollows within old growth Mountain Ash in the Central highlands and in one tiny lowland population at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve.

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