An orphaned baby koala named Lucy found her way back to health and rehabilitation after being rescued. Lucy owes her health to the staff at Australia Zoo, founded by “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. Discovered lost and alone in a driveway in the suburban area of Burpengary, Queensland, Lucy was rescued by Australia Zoo “Wildlife Warriors” and brought in for emergency care.
Dehydrated and “desperate to find shelter from the scorching sun,” the joey was in dire straits. Despite suffering from chlamydial conjunctivitis (pinkeye), Lucy managed to make a swift recovery under the hospital’s care. Chronicling her rehabilitation and graduation to “koala kindy” over the following months, she won the hearts of thousands of social media users.
Meet Lucy, the gorgeous koala joey that is melting hearts at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Poor Lucy was found…
Director of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Dr. Rosie Booth explained in a Facebook video just how close to death this tiny koala was when she first arrived. “Lucy was in such a bad condition with her dehydration that she spent three days in our care with intravenous fluids,” Dr. Booth said, noting that she was far too young to survive on her own.
In addition to the koala recovering from heat stroke, the vet said “she needed to commence treatment for her chlamydia, so she had eye medication and systemic antibiotics.” With all of the intensive care, Lucy managed to beat the odds and survive.
The next steps in Lucy’s recovery were getting her healthy enough to be able go to “koala kindy,” a protected natural space in the Australia Zoo where the animals can live among each other and practice the life skills they will need to be released back into the wild. Dr. Booth described it as a place where rescued koalas “get to learn about koala language, social norms, and they’re also put with an adult female who helps them to keep calm and know how to move around in their environment.”
To be able to leave the hospital, Lucy first had to undergo “a pre-kindy exam,” as Dr. Booth called it, a whole round of procedures designed to ensure her health and that of all the other koalas she would come into contact with.
The vet said this would include “an anesthetic and then we had to do swabs to check that the chlamydia was cured, and we needed to put in an ear tag and a microchip, an assessment of body condition, body weight, a chest ray, and an ultrasound of [her] bladder and reproductive health.”
Thankfully, Lucy passed with flying colors, and some four months after arriving in ICU, she finally made it back into the trees among her own kind. It was a sweet but sad moment for her carers, who had to say goodbye. Dr. Booth explained, “When they are with a wildlife carer, they get imprinted on humans, so they need to disassociate themselves from humans before they’re released [into the wild].”
Lucy’s journey from near death to taking her first steps as a wild koala was incredibly gratifying for all the carers and vets at the Australia Zoo.
Her amazing recovery embodies the mission of the late Steve Irwin, which is being carried on by his wife, Terri Irwin, and children, Robert and Bindi. The famed TV presenter and animal rescuer once said, “My job, my mission, the reason I’ve been put onto this planet, is to save wildlife.”