Vaccine Milestone Marks Save the Koala Day
Currumbin Wildlife Hosptial
Save the Koala Day falls on September 24, and to mark the occasion, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital is celebrating a monumental achievement. It has now administered a lifesaving chlamydia vaccine to a total of 135 Koalas that have been released back into the wild.
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital is working on the vaccine program with Queensland University of Technology. Since receiving a grant to administer the vaccine in 2020, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital has led the way in ensuring wild Koala populations are protected against the devastating disease.
The goal is to vaccinate every Koala that is admitted to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treatment, rehabilitation, and release. It’s hoped this will provide the wild population with lifelong protection against the deadly illness and allow them to produce healthy joeys.
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Senior Veterinarian Dr Michael Pyne says the successful rollout of the vaccine could help save the species.
Without preventative measures, Koalas are on track to become extinct in large areas of Eastern Australia. If this vaccine is effective, then we have hope to prevent Koalas getting sick in the first place.
Heading for extinction
60% of Koalas admitted to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital are suffering from chlamydia, but it’s believed that even more of the wild population goes untreated. Disease isn’t the only threat to the wild population. Koalas are in serious decline due to habitat destruction, domestic animal attacks, bushfires, and road accidents.
Koalas are now listed as a vulnerable species in Queensland.
I first started working at the Hospital 20 years ago, it was unusual to see a Koala admitted. We probably only saw about two or three per year, Dr Pyne says.
Fast-forward 20 years and we are admitting up to 500 Koalas annually. It’s heartbreaking to see the problems our koalas are facing.
Their future is up to us
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s chlamydia vaccine research program is still in its early stages, and community support is essential to push forward with this critical work. Each Koala suffering from disease costs an average of $7,000 to treat.
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s service is free to the community, working to treat, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned wildlife animals.
You can mark Save the Koala Day by donating to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s ongoing conservation work online.
There are also plenty of free, easy things that you can do at home to protect Koalas in the natural habitats:
• Be a responsible pet owner and keep your pets inside at night
• Drive slowly near Koala habitats, especially at dawn or dusk when Koalas are most active
• Protect Koala habitat, even in your own backyard
• Plant a Koala food tree