A $2.55M koala hospital is being built at Werribee Open Range Zoo

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A $2.55M koala hospital is being built at Werribee Open Range Zoo

An injured koala recovering at the hospital. Image courtesy of Greater Port Macquarie Tourism

Construction has begun on a world-class veterinary facility at Werribee Open Range Zoo to treat sick and injured koalas and other precious wildlife from across western Victoria.

Originally announced back in 2020, Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria have joined forces to build a new, world-class veterinary facility for sick and injured koalas and other precious wildlife in Victoria’s western regions.

The $2.55 million facility will be known as the ‘RSPCA Koala Ward’ at Werribee Open Range Zoo – recognising the funding partnership between the two organisations. A staggering $1.3million has come from generous donations made to RSPCA Victoria during the 2020 summer’s devastating bushfires.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

The RSPCA support and Zoos Victoria philanthropic funds for the hospital are in addition to $84 million in funding from the Andrews Labor Government to transform the Werribee Zoo into a world-class conservation and education destination.

Being located in the heart of Melbourne’s west, a bushfire-prone region with significant wildlife and koala populations, Werribee Zoo was a prime candidate for the new medical facility which will treat wildlife from the western regions of the state and complement the existing wildlife hospitals at Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo.

“The Werribee Open Range Zoo transformation will significantly change the way wildlife is cared for in Victoria’s western regions, as well as allowing visitors to see this care firsthand,” says minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

The koala ward will include two fully equipped surgery rooms and a neonatal room, while twelve outdoor recovery zones will be built next to the hospital to house injured koalas and other wildlife during their rehabilitation and a large browse plantation at the zoo will provide a critical food source.

As well as increasing the Zoo’s capacity to care for koalas, native birds, reptiles and mammals in Victoria’s western regions by up to 400%, the new facility will also equip Zoos Victoria’s team of wildlife experts with greater resources to respond during bushfire emergencies. Importantly, Zoo visitors will also be able to witness staff undertaking their wildlife conservation work and help foster care and respect for wildlife.

The ward follows 2020/21 summer’s devastating bushfire season where 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. Both organisations continue to actively support communities and animals through the recovery.

The construction follows the recent news that the Koala has been put on the endangered species list and is at risk of extinction in NSW, ACT and Queensland. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called the decision “a grim but important outcome”.

The RSPCA Koala Ward is scheduled for completion in mid-2022.

Read the announcement here