Koala survives attack that left her with horrific injuries
A female koala has survived a suspected dog attack in Queensland that left her with a small scratch to her face that masked horrific internal injuries.
It was October last year when concerned members of the public phoned the Ipswich Koala Protection Society (IKPS) to report the attack on the adult female and joey at Lowood.
IKPS volunteers including Claire Phillips, who is also a vet with the RSPCA, were unable to nudge mother and joey down so they set up a trap around the base of the tree.
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After being caught, the pair, dubbed Fluffy and Andy, were taken to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital.
At first glance there were no obvious signs of injury beyond a small scratch to Fluffy's face.
However, vets would soon discover Fluffy had an internal tear in her chest wall, a collapsed lung, broken ribs and extensive bruising. Despite that, she was still carrying Andy on her back.
"Her survival instinct was to protect her baby and that overrode her pain response," Ms Phillips said in a World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia media statement.
"Her injuries were so severe we didn't expect her to survive, but incredibly Fluffy pulled through following emergency surgery to repair her chest. She is one tough koala."
Ms Phillips said if anyone thinks a koala has been in direct contact with a dog always call animal rescuers, "even if the koala looks ok".
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"Koalas attacked by dogs often have severe internal injuries that are not obvious but can be fatal without urgent treatment," she said.
She believes Fluffy would have died without the surgery she performed, and Andy would have likely perished as he still needed his mother's milk.
Ms Phillips released Fluffy on 28 November last year at a home in Lowood which backs onto koala habitat. Locals report she seems in good health.
The RSPCA says Andy had a poor body score when he arrived at the hospital.
IKPS vice president Marilyn Spletter cared for Andy for six weeks feeding him milk from a syringe.
In that time, he gained about 1.5kg and was transferred to a large enclosure with trees to enable him to build climbing strength.
In February this year, four months after his rescue, Andy was released to the same tree as his mother.
Koala populations are dwindling in Queensland and NSW, with 61,000 koalas nationwide impacted by the bushfires.