Wild bird of prey flying high after recovery at Werribee Open Range Zoo
An Australian native Brown falcon, found critically injured in the wild, is soaring the skies once again after its life was saved by the veterinary team at Werribee Open Range Zoo.
The majestic falcon was found by a member of the public in Lara, 18 kilometres north-west of Geelong, and brought to the Zoo for urgent medical treatment for a broken wing – an injury sustained from a suspected road trauma accident.
On arrival to the Zoo, the falcon’s condition was precarious as medium-sized raptors are completely reliant on their powerful wings to hover in the sky, pounce and hunt for their prey.
Werribee Open Range Zoo Associate Veterinarian, Dr Paul Eden, operated on the falcon and placed a stabilising pin in its wing (ulna bone) to support the healing process. With some antibiotics, pain relief medication and extra feeds to help it regain its body condition, the bird-of-prey began its recovery.
“The wing healed really well, which was a fantastic outcome as there are always concerns with broken bones that an infection may occur or the bones may not fuse together,” Dr Eden said. “But once that the bone had completely healed, we then removed the pin and started the next important step – to get some movement into the wing as soon as we could so we could help it fly again.”
The bird underwent physiotherapy in one of the Zoo’s veterinary wards for two weeks and was then transferred to a wildlife carer for additional rehabilitation to prepare it for release back into the wild.
“With the ever expanding impact of humans on the environment, we feel grateful that we can make a difference to the health and welfare of the wild animals we share the world with.”
“Up to four times a day, over the course of an additional 13 weeks, the falcon participated in flight training with a wildlife carer,” Dr Eden said. “This helped the bird build up its stamina and muscle by encouraging it to fly back-and-forth through a rehab facility in short bursts, until it could sustain flight activity for an extended period of time.”
Dr Eden said it was exciting to see the bird-of-prey recover and return back to the wild near where it was found.
“Treating sick and injured wildlife can be challenging, especially as many come to us that are ill or severely injured that don’t make it, but successful recoveries like this Brown falcon make the harder parts of the job all worthwhile,” Dr Eden said. “With the ever expanding impact of humans on the environment, we feel grateful that we can make a difference to the health and welfare of the wild animals we share the world with.”
Throughout the past year, Werribee Open Range Zoo’s veterinary hospital has seen a staggering 133 per cent rise in wildlife presenting with road trauma injuries.
“We’re asking motorists to slow down on our roads and be alert, especially at dusk and dawn when a lot of our wildlife is moving around,” Dr Eden said. “And if you see sick, injured or orphaned wildlife, please call a wildlife expert for assistance.”
Werribee Open Range Zoo re-opened to visitors on Tuesday 26 October under the latest changing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions by the Victorian Government. Daily visitor numbers are capped, visitors must be fully vaccinated and all tickets must be pre-purchased online. For more information, visit: www.zoo.org.au.