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Koalas Rescued from Australian Bushfires Return Home

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: December 7, 2020 10:52 pm

koala release zoos victoria

One of the koalas in care after being injured during the bushfires

Photo Credit: Zoos Victoria

Fourteen koalas which were rescued as Victoria endured one of its worst bushfire seasons have returned to the wild.


In a first these koalas have all been fitted with tracking collars and will be monitored for the first four months after their release. This data will be used to improve the success of future koala releases.


The fourteen koalas were rescued and treated at triage centers established in East Gippsland bushfire zones immediately after the fire passed through these areas earlier this year. Here they received emergency treatment before being taken to Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo to continue their rehabilitation.

koala release zoos victoria

One of the koalas in care after being injured during the bushfires

Photo Credit: Zoos Victoria

Some of the koalas have undergone multiple surgeries and many months of follow-up treatments.


Once each koala was sufficiently recovered it was placed in a large enclosure at Healesville Sanctuary or Phillip Island Nature Parks where under the supervision of Zoos Victoria vets they could complete their rehabilitation. In these areas they could gain the climbing strength and fitness needed to survive in the wild.


Over the past month these koalas have returned to the wild with the last individuals released this past weekend in a patch of revegetated bush land around Mallacoota. Their release sites were close to where they were rescued.

koala release zoos victoria

A healthy koala after it was released to the wild

Photo Credit: Zoos Victoria

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has welcomed the news.


“Having seen first-hand the extent of some of their injuries – it warms my heart to know these koalas are healthy again and back where they belong,” Minister D’Ambrosio said.


“I want to congratulate everyone involved in their survival and recovery which has been the result of an incredible coordinated response.”

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Zoos Victoria Senior Veterinarian Dr Leanne Wicker, who is managing the release of the koalas said, “It was a special moment to see these koalas, who have been through so much, finally return to the wild,” Dr Wicker said. “I will never forget the injuries and trauma that first confronted us in the wildlife triage units in January. Sadly, there were many animals that we couldn’t save, but we gave our all to treat the badly burnt paws, noses and ears while monitoring for internal injuries.


“It has been a huge undertaking and responsibility for all involved to slowly rehabilitate these koalas, and a real privilege to now be able to bring them back to their homes where they can complete their recovery as the project team continues to monitor them to gain further understanding on the health, welfare and long-term survival of recovered fire-affected koalas released back in the wild.”

koala release zoos victoria

A healthy koala after it was released to the wild

Photo Credit: Zoos Victoria

Learn more about koalas here – Koala Fact File | The Animal Facts


Learn more about Zoos Victoria on their website – Zoos Victoria

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