In 1970 Bob and Lyn Irwin established what is now the multi-award winning Australia Zoo, which employs hundreds of people in a wide variety of jobs. Lyn's main dream though was to build a hospital dedicated solely to Australian native animals. In 2004, after Lyn's death, their famous son, Steve, with wife Terri, first opened the doors of the Australia Wildlife Hospital in a disused avocado packing shed behind the zoo.
Today Queensland's famous wildlife hospital employs veterinarians, vet nurses, staff and cleaners, and can take up to 100 emergency calls for injured wildlife daily. In its first 10 years 50,000 animals covering 500 different species, most victims of cars and domestic pets, had been treated at the hospital. From the largest kangaroo to the smallest newborn bat, the policy is that nothing is too big, too small, or too commonplace for specialist treatment and care.
With treatment of just one animal costing between $400 to over $1000, this alone shows the incredible effort going into helping our native wildlife. However the hospital is also involved in research into animal diseases, migratory patterns, quarantine and management of diseased animals, and specialises in koala care. With each koala costing up to $5000, and 70 koalas on average admitted monthly, this takes the value of this first class facility to an astonishing level. The fact that it relies heavily on the generosity of the public to keep operating only further seals its position as a true giant in wildlife care.
Besides all this, a rescue unit based at the hospital works around the clock collecting sick, injured and orphaned native animals, further ensuring them quick and professional attention. And at the end of their time in care a series of beautiful rainforest enclosures makes sure each animal is well prepared for return to its natural environment.
This hospital is indeed an amazing place. Any young person with a passion for animals is advised to keep on eye on their website, where lists of jobs and posts of positions vacant are regularly updated.
- P Edwards
This post was originally published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Daily Examiner on April 27.