Unitywater and Australia Zoo have joined forces to feed sick and injured koalas at Australia Zoo’s wildlife hospital and others housed at the zoo on the Sunshine Coast.
Unitywater has offered the zoo access to its Kenilworth Sewage Treatment Plant, where a large number of mature eucalypt trees provide a ready source of food for the fussy eaters.
Australia Zoo staff have already begun harvesting the new-growth gum leaves favoured by koalas and will visit to site regularly to refresh supplies.
Colin Haynes from Unitywater’s Treatment Plants Operations said Unitywater learned about the zoo’s search for more koala food through Australian Farm Forestry.
“When Kenilworth Sewage Treatment Plant needed an upgrade about six years ago, Australian Farm Forestry met our needs with a two-hectare plantation of mixed species,” Mr Haynes said.
“The plantation is an inexpensive and natural way to give a final polish to the treated water, taking out phosphorous and nitrogen.
“The trees in the plantation were chosen because they are natives and it’s a happy coincidence that three of the species are prime koala food.”
Australia Zoo curator Kelsey Engle said koala rehabilitation at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is a long and expensive process, and finding reliable sources of food is one of their many challenges.
“About 500 plantation trees are required to feed one koala for one year, so we are very thankful for the new harvests made possible by Unitywater,” Ms Engle said.
“The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital treats up to 110 koalas at any one time, and they are one of the most costly animals to treat as they remain with us for the duration of their rehabilitation.”
Mr Haynes said the agreement between Unitywater and Australia Zoo ensures harvesting is undertaken on a sustainable basis.
He said Unitywater was pleased to be able to assist by making its plantation available free of charge.
“We know the wildlife hospital depends on public support through donations to continue the fantastic work they are doing,” he said.
“Unitywater saw this as an opportunity to provide some practical, ongoing help for this great facility and the animals they are treating.”