Record month at Zoo Wildlife Hospital

Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital has recorded its busiest month ever in terms of free-ranging wildlife admissions.

During December the hospital’s veterinary team saw 102 total wildlife cases, a 70% increase on the five year December average. 75% of the December cases were birds, 19% were mammals and 6% reptiles. The avian species ranged from an assortment of parrots, ducks, raptors, magpies, kookaburras, tawnyfrogmouths, ravens, swallows, a dollar bird and a pelican.

“Last year was the second busiest year to date for the hospital after a record 2019, in which we saw so much wildlife impacted by the drought,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr Michelle Campbell.
“This year, and particularly towards the latter part of the year, the most common presentation for wildlife was trauma. The majority of trauma cases we would categorise as anthropogenic or human-induced.”
Examples of trauma cases in December included animals that sustained injuries from motor vehicles, those caught in fences, some that were attacked by domestic pets and even one poor bird who had been shot in
the wing.
“Interestingly we experienced an atypical dip in wildlife admissions during the lockdown months from March through to August, concurrent with less human activity including cars on the roads. It’s a reminder of the influence that humans have on wildlife health and safety. As we go about our business, we need to be mindful of the impact our everyday activities can have on wild animals that share our environment.”
The second largest group of casualties for December were orphans. For many wild bird species in NSW, it has been a bumper breeding season through spring and early summer following the drought-breaking rains.
“We had a clutch of grey teal ducklings who were rescued from a cat attack and another group of Australian wood ducklings whose mother was hit by a car and died,” Dr Campbell said.
“Several slightly older but still dependent birds appeared to get into trouble during or immediately after bad storms: including one noisy minor chick which was the only survivor from its nest and a magpie-lark fledgling.”

The Wildlife Hospital services a large area and in addition to cases from the Dubbo/Narromine/Wellington region, the team also saw animals brought to the hospital from Cobar, Warren, Collie, Mendooran, Dunedoo, Coonabarabran, Gunnedah, Cudal, Trundle and Spring Ridge during December.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital sees a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and birds that are sick or injured through its doors on an annual basis. The hospital provides a veterinary and rehabilitation service for sick, injured and orphaned free-ranging wildlife.

If you come across an injured or sick native animal you can contact the Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital on 6881 1461 for advice or WIRES on 1300 094 737 for rescue help.