A curious and sweet baby koala found in tears for its mother during one of the worst days of this year’s disastrous floods in rivers in northern New South Wales has been set free.
Koala Joey Gulliver was found walking alone on the ground in torrential rain in Tregeagle, west of Ballina, on February 28.
Gulliver was rescued the same day hundreds of residents of Northern River towns were stranded on rooftops as floodwaters flooded Lismore and surrounding areas.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet told the media at the time that the situation was “unprecedented” and “distressing”.
Gulliver was calling his mother, who could not be located by the rescuers.
The 14-month-old marsupial was cared for by the rescue organization Friends of the Koala, which works with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to care for koalas and bring them back to the wild.
Gulliver was found in good shape by vet Jodie Wakeman, but due to his young age the Joey was left in home care until he was old enough to return to the bush.
The young koala was alert, curious and kind, according to his caregivers.
After nearly five months of treatment, Gulliver was released last week.
Nicole Rojas-Marin, head of the IFAW’s animal rescue program, said floods have a major impact on wildlife and that a single survival can save the life of an endangered species.
“Although people may think koalas are safe in trees, the reality is that they run a real risk of being separated from their mothers or getting hurt and not feeling well,” he said.
“Gulliver is very lucky to have been rescued when he was – he could have ended up in a much worse situation, but instead, after months of expert treatment, he was released back into the wild, where he hopes to thrive.”
Dr. Wakeman said baby Gulliver’s survival has given a positive direction to the Friends of the Koala rescuers, after the many casualties they suffered during the floods of the Northern Rivers.
“Being directly involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of Gulliver … gives us hope for the future of our endangered species,” he said.