Trauma season strikes Aussie wildlife

The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital faces its busiest time of year in summer.

As Queensland starts to live up to its reputation as the Sunshine State and the weather warms, native wildlife increasingly gets on the move and us exposed to more danger.

Known as ‘Trauma Season’, the warmer period from September to February has the team at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital on high alert, as native animals become even more vulnerable over the holiday season.

It is expected up to 100 animals will be admitted to Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital for care each day over the summer months, with most injuries caused by motor vehicles.

The wildlife hospital has helped more than 70,000 sick, injured and displaced animals since opening in 2004.

Director of Australia Zoo Animal Hospital Dr Rosie Booth said this time of year was hard on the wildlife and the hospital team.

“Our vets, nurses and volunteers work tirelessly to treat, support and release wildlife that has been admitted during the trauma season,” Dr Booth said.

“We need the support from everyone in our community to avoid as many accidents as possible and treat those that are unavoidable.”

Dr Booth said everyone could help reduce the number of animals injured over trauma season by keeping a lookout while driving.

“We tend to think it’s only important to look out for other vehicles or people on the road, which isn’t the case – we already know that 30% of our admissions are hit by cars,” Dr Booth said.

“It’s crucial to our environment to be aware of the wildlife that surrounds us, especially at night and always expect the unexpected.

“Thanks to RACQ, our rescue team is well-equipped to respond to animal emergencies with our animal ambulances, so if members of the public are unable to transport a sick or injured animal, we are able to step in.”

The rescue teams travel across Queensland and have covered more than 800,000km to assist animals in need – with the most common areas for trauma injury being the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Beerwah and Morayfield.

Treatment for each animal admitted to the wildlife hospital can range from $350-$750 and the cost is much higher for koalas, which require specialist care and incur costs of up to $7000 during their recovery.

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Public Relations Executive Cassie Jackson said while car strikes were the most common injury, the rescue teams must be prepared for anything.

“From a car strike, we generally see broken bones, gravel rash, internal injuries and severe bruising,” she said.

“Other common reasons patients are admitted include disease, misplacement due to habitat loss, pollution such as plastic ingestion, fishing hook and line entanglement and domestic pet attacks.

Ms Jackson said if people come across an injured animal, the should avoid putting themselves or the animal in further danger.

“We can all help by keeping domestic pets locked up at night and by being aware of animals when driving around bushland,” she said.

“If an animal is behaving strangely or looks injured there are things we can all do, such as keeping them in a safe environment where the animal is calm.

“People can even transport the animal to the hospital themselves – using towel and a box to help keep the animal comfortable and calm is essential which is why it’s always good to keep these in the car.

“If rescuing and transporting the animal isn’t an option, keep an eye on the animal and call the Wildlife Emergency Hotline on 1300 369 652.”

RACQ and the Queensland Government are major supporters of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, helping them to achieve the best possible care for all wildlife patients.

RACQ members save more than 10% on entry to Australia Zoo plus receive a sneak peek of the wildlife hospital.

You can help by donating at wildlifewarriors.org.au.