A $1.84 million hospital will be built at Werribee Open Range Zoo to help care for sick and injured koalas and other native wildlife.
Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria announced the project, which has been dubbed “the koala hospital”, last week.
The hospital will be funded through $1.3 million in donations made to RSPCA Victoria following last summer’s bushfires, while the remaining costs will be funded by Zoos Victoria.
Construction of the hospital is due to commence early next year. A large eucalypt plantation has already been installed at the zoo, to provide food for koalas and wildlife while they are in care.
The koala hospital will be constructed to allow zoo visitors to see staff undertaking their work.
The hospital will treat wildlife from the western regions of the state, and complement the existing wildlife hospitals at Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo.
It will also equip Zoos Victoria’s team of wildlife experts with greater resources to respond during bushfires.
During last summer’s bushfires, Zoos Victoria’s veterinary teams treated and rehabilitated bushfire-affected wildlife, and RSPCA Victoria deployed its Mobile Animal Care Unit and support staff to triage locations.
Zoos Victoria chief executive, Dr Jenny Gray, said she was excited to join forces with RSPCA for the koala hospital project.
“We’re thankful for RSPCA Victoria’s generous support,” Dr Gray said.
“This alignment will allow us to provide expert, compassionate care to more sick, injured and bushfire-affected wildlife in a region where we are seeing this need grow year on year.”
RSPCA Victoria chief executive, Dr Liz Walker, thanked everyone who donated to the organisation during the bushfires.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Zoos Victoria to build a new, state of the art koala hospital for Victoria – made possible by the generous donors who supported our bushfire appeal last summer,” she said.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is temporarily closed to visitors, but animal lovers can stay connected with its animals through Zoos Victoria’s live stream cameras at www.zoo.org.au/animals-at-home.