The Wildlife Hospitals at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo care for around 1,400 native animals each year. These animals are brought to the hospitals by members of the community after being found sick, injured or orphaned.
The main aim of the Wildlife Hospitals is to rehabilitate as many native animals as possible for release back to the wild. The variety of animals treated is enormous, ranging from stranded seals and orphaned baby bats, to pelicans tangled in fishing line. All these animals need professional care and attention during the treatment and rehabilitation process to ensure they can be returned to their natural environment.
When an animal is brought to one of the two hospitals, the details are recorded on a hospital record sheet. The animal is then examined by a veterinarian and a prognosis made. The treatment details and the animal's progress are recorded on its hospital record sheet throughout the rehabilitation process. Whenever possible the rescuer is involved in the eventual release of the animal.
Prior to release, most animals are given a permanent and unique identifier, such as ear tags for possums and leg bands for birds and bats. If the animal is recaptured at a later date, details about its health, movements and post-release behaviour can be recorded.
Marine Turtles are one of Taronga’s five Australian Legacy Species, with six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle occurring in Australian waters. We have pledged to work with marine turtles because they are vital species in the maintenance of sea grasses and coral reefs, and provide vital services to different ecosystems.
In 2017-2018, 24 endangered marine turtles were admitted, including 20 Green Turtles, three Hawksbills and one Loggerhead Turtle. The four Green Turtles were released and three of those turtles were satellite tracked, enabling Taronga to monitor their movements and survival after rehabilitation. Taronga’s rehabilitation tracking project is a key element of our legacy commitment to assist in identifying critical habitat for marine turtles within the Sydney basin.
The Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Sydney treats and rehabilitates over 30 Little Penguins annually. The majority of these originate from the Manly Little Penguin colony, which is listed as an endangered population under the Threated Species Conservation Act. The Wildlife Hospital works in close collaboration with the Office of Environment and Heritage to protect these penguins, which have become a Sydney icon and are the last remaining mainland colony of penguins in New South Wales. Staff at the hospital have continued involvement with the Citizen Science based Project Penguin, threatened species fund raising events and beach clean ups in collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
A juvenile platypus was found by a concerned member of the public and brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital by a WIRES member. The puggle, given the name of George, was dangerously underweight at 420 grams, half the healthy weight for his estimated 6 months of age. He began an intensive feeding and rehabilitation program under the care of the Taronga Wildlife Hospital and the Australian Fauna team. After six months of dedicated care, George reached a healthy weight of 1.3 kilograms and was fit enough to be returned to the wild. He was released in the upper reaches of Colo River, north of Sydney.