Saturday 6 May 2017


Photo: G Eggins
At dusk on 23 May 2014 a male koala was released into a red gum tree on Mulligan Drive, Waterview Heights. He climbed awkwardly, gripping the tree with one hind leg instead of his foot, bringing doubts about his survival chances in the wild and the decision to release him.

This koala first came into WIRES' care in October 2013 after a tangle with a dog. Named after the owner who promptly called WIRES then helped to get him out of his garden shrub, Shane was an 8 kg 6 year old with a few bites on his rump and a broken hind foot from the fray. X-rays later found he also had a previously broken tibia, but otherwise was in good shape

Once captured Shane was given painkillers and antibiotics at the Clarence Valley vet clinic, and next morning was in surgery at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, where his crushed toe was amputated and he spent the next seven months undergoing treatment and therapy.

As a dominant male Shane could only be returned to his home territory, as close as sensibly possible to his pick-up site. And so, after many further hours confined in a basket returning to Grafton, a travel-weary, grumpy Shane was finally freed into the favoured food tree some 400 metres from where he was found.

With so much effort and hundreds of dollars spent in getting Shane safely home, the only thing to do now was wish him a safe and trouble-free rest of his life and leave him to his own devices. The rest was up to him - and luck.

Now photos taken by resident Gary Eggins of a big koala who regularly visits his property, wearing an orange ear tag with the word WIRES and number 1177, have positively identified Shane, alive and well and in great condition. 

Photo: G Eggins

Shane now is old for a wild koala, so residents are asked to watch for him, to keep him safe while he happily lives out the rest of his time in the area he grew up in.

- Patricia Edwards

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on April 24, 2017.