“With all the Facebook posts about wonderful people caring for wildlife amidst the fire and heat disasters over these past weeks, a silent tragedy is happening. Koala's are DYING because people are trying their best to help but don't understand how a koala actually drinks,” reads the post.
The shelter then goes on to share a story about a koala called Arnie.
“Arnie survived the heat wave AND fires with only minor burns to his feet and hands. His burns were healing. He survived losing his mum and the loss of his home. He was found by some very caring people who did what any human would do when they find a distressed animal - and offered him a drink from their bottle of water. They were just trying to help. They didn’t know that it is dangerous for Koalas to drink this way. They didn’t know that Koalas usually get most of their water via the gum leaves that they eat and they don’t often drink water, but when they do, they are face down and lapping small amounts with their tongue. They didn’t know that when a Koala holds it head up and takes in too much water, it can easily get in to their lungs and cause Aspiration Pneumonia, which is usually fatal. This is exactly what happened to little Arnie.”
The post has since has more than 16,000 reactions, 116,000 shares and more than 2000 comments – with many people questioning why this information wasn’t made available to the public sooner.
HOW TO HELP AN INJURED KOALA
The wildlife shelter shared the post to try and educate as many people as possible about the risk associated with giving a koala water improperly. Animalia Wildlife Shelter then provided some excellent pointers on what you need to do should you find a koala that needs help.
- If you find a koala in need of help in the heat or within a fire zone, do not offer it water from a bottle or cup by pouring water down to its face, and never force a koala to drink.
- If it is safe to do so, use a blanket to retrieve the koala and take it to the nearest animal shelter. If the koala resists, do not pick it up.
- If picking up the koala is not possible, take note of the koala’s position and pass the details on wildlife rescuers working in the area.
- If you are nowhere near help, the best thing you can do is pour water into a bowl (or similar object) on the ground and allow the koala to lap it up, face down.