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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

9 May 2006

Funding boost for wildlife hospital will help Australia's koala population

Australia’s koala population will be a major beneficiary of the Australian Government’s funding boost of $2.5 million for the expansion of the Australian Wildlife Hospital announced in tonight’s Budget.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the hospital would improve the chance of survival for thousands of our native animals, particularly in Australia’s fastest growing region in south-east Queensland.

This region is one of the key areas of concern for koalas.

The Australian Wildlife Hospital and Rescue Unit collects sick, injured and orphaned koalas and other wildlife and provides care and rehabilitation before releasing them back into the wild.

“Patient numbers are skyrocketing with up to 90 koalas admitted each month for treatment and 60 koalas in the facility’s specially designed koala rehabilitation enclosures,” Senator Campbell said.

“The hospital has separate holding facilities for males and females and diseased and non-diseased koalas. There is also an orphan enclosure designed specifically to allow hand-raised koalas to develop climbing skills and to minimise contact with human carers before being released back into the wild.

“While the facilities are excellent, demand for the services continues to increase, with 3150 native animals treated in 2005, almost double the number treated in 2004. With 1128 native animals treated in the first three months of this year, the hospital expects to assist more than 4500 native animals in 2006.”

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government’s $2.5 million one-off funding boost would be used to aid the hospital expansion, due for completion in June 2007.

“The koala is an iconic Australian species and most Australians would have a special fondness for them,” Senator Campbell said.

“Visitors from around the world consider koalas a key aspect of the Australian cultural landscape and this funding injection will help staff at the wildlife hospital conduct ongoing research into wildlife disease and health management. This important research may in the future be used to further protect our unique and iconic native species.”

The koala has been nominated for listing as a threatened species under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Senator Campbell is considering advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which has assessed the nomination to determine whether the koala is considered nationally threatened. A decision will be announced in the coming weeks.

Media Contacts:
Marianne McCabe (Senator Campbell's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580

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