Ember survives, then dies as koala volunteers try to save her

Ember in a tree with her joey.

During the 2019 bushfires, Ember was severely dehydrated, her fur was black, coated in soot and she was badly singed. She suffered from congested lungs from smoke inhalation and had significant burns to her rump and all four paws.

Friends of the Koala rescue volunteers Bill and Ros were walking in the Bungawalbin National Park when they found Ember.

Everyone feared for her survival but, despite a worrying prognosis, Ember’s health began to improve. Eventually, with care and attention from Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and a dedicated veterinary team and volunteers, she made a full recovery and was released back into the wild.

Eighteen months later, Ember was spotted in the wild with a joey. And recently she was spotted with another joey.

Following the sighting of Ember with this second joey, in October last year she was seen low in a tree by Ros and Bill without her joey. They brought her in to Friends of the Koala for an examination. When they returned they found the joey (named Ash) dead on the ground not far from where Ember had been sitting.

The examination of Ember showed her coat had turned a little brown and dry and her body condition wasn’t as good as it should have been. This can happen when koalas are rearing young joeys. Ember also showed some signs that she may have been affected by koala retrovirus evident in pigmentation loss from her hands and feet.

Here is one of Ember’s joeys.

At the Koala Care Centre, Ember was moving well, eating and scatting normally so she was released back home and was monitored.

Vets were concerned about her immune system and thought that perhaps Ember might be more susceptible to disease than a healthy koala because of the damage caused during the bushfires.

On March 5, Ros and Bill noticed that Ember appeared thin and her backside had the telltale signs of a koala with chlamydia. She was brought back in. In a short period of time, Ember’s health suffered rapid decline.

The difficult decision was made to euthanise Ember.

She was buried next to Sid, who had sired her joeys and a grevillea wildfire was planted between two stones marking Ember and Sid’s resting places.

Friends of the Koala is a charity with 240 volunteers.

To support their work, go here.

Information provided by Friends of the Koala.

An artwork in honour of Ember. Photos: Friends of the Koala

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