Thursday, 2 April 2020 is proud day for the staff and volunteers at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital – and all of Australia – as the first koala to be admitted from bushfires in October 2019 is joyfully released back to their original habitat.
Anwen is just one of 26 koalas that will be released over the next few days, with habitats having recovered much earlier than expected due to significant rainfall in the area.
Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia said, “While we are all facing difficult and uncertain times, this incredible story of hope serves as a reminder of the resilience of our incredible flora and fauna and people.
“We know many travellers around the world have had to put their Australian holiday plans on hold until it is safe to travel again. Until then, keep dreaming and plan to visit our incredible wildlife once it’s safe to do so.”
26 koalas return home
Three groups of koalas will be released back to their original habitats in Crowdy Bay (South of Port Macquarie), and two areas in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve, in the coming days. Amongst the 26 koalas, there are seven joeys which carers have hopes will go on to create new koala populations.
Anwen’s story of hope
Four-year-old Anwen was admitted into Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s intensive care unit with badly burnt arms suffered from the Lake Innes Nature Reserve / Crestwood bushfire, and once treated, she lay quietly in her basket for months. Once her wounds had healed, she was then moved to an external rehabilitation unit. Anwen has now made a full recovery; she’s active, cheeky, and ready to go home.
The unsung heroes of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Staff and volunteers at the Koala Hospital treated 49 injured koalas which were rescued from burnt areas in the Port Macquarie-Hastings region and beyond. The facility’s care and rehabilitation for koalas also expanded to those coming from Taree, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. Koalas from these regions have now been returned to their original ‘home’ areas for release.
Sue Ashton, President of Port Macquarie Koala Hospital said, “This is a heart-warming day for us – to be able to release so many of our koalas back to their original habitats, even to their original tree in some cases – makes us very happy. Anwen was our first ever female koala to be admitted during the bushfires and her recovery has been extraordinary. It marks a proud moment for Australia; to see our Koala population and habitat, starting to recover from what was such a devastating time.
Liesa Davies, Group Manager Economic and Cultural Development at Port Macquarie-Hastings Council said, “The Port Macquarie region has a nationally significant population of 2,000 koalas and bushfires are one of the top dangers to habitat and lives. The work that the staff and volunteers at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital do is amazing at any time but particularly during the bushfires; and since they have worked tirelessly, we would like to say a huge thanks to them.
“The recent days and weeks have presented new and uncertain challenges and the way we must live our lives is changing. Occasions like this give us all reason to hope and look to the future. Now is not the time to travel, but we can encourage people to plan to lend support by visiting when it is safe to do so, witnessing the wonderful work the Koala Hospital does and supporting local business recovery,” Davies continues.