Lead poisoning may now kill off Frodo

Kym Agius

November 20, 2010

A baby koala fights for life after being shot.Baby koala Frodo fights for life after being shot. Photo: Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors

Veterinarians fear a baby koala that survived a gunshot will succumb to lead poisoning.

The joey, named Frodo, was found on November 5 in Kenilworth, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, with 15 shotgun pellets lodged in her head and body, an Australia Zoo spokeswoman said.

Frodo’s skull was fractured and her stomach and intestines damaged in the attack.

She underwent two operations, but eight pellets are still lodged in her body.

Doctor Amber Gillett from the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital said some of the pellets were lodged in Frodo’s stomach and intestinal tract which they feared would lead to toxicity.

“The lead pellets are still a concern, although at this stage there is no evidence that poisoning has occurred, it is still our highest priority and will continue to be monitored,” Dr Gillett said.

Dr Gillett, who operated on Frodo, said the pellets were too hard to reach and won’t be operated on at this stage.

“I think we will leave them to see if they pass,” she said.

“If they don’t pass then she will go on treatment to prevent toxicity.”

The other pellets lodged in Frodo’s body are superficial and won’t cause any problems.

Despite the poisoning fears, Dr Gillett said Frodo was making good progress, and was even eating eucalyptus leaves on her own.

She also enjoys an enclosure with another baby koala, and the two often play.

“She’s climbing around the trees, looking like a normal koala now,” Dr Gillett said.

“She has a real fighting spirit in her.”

“Frodo is a very alert little girl and has been moving around freely by herself.”

She is expected to remain in care for a minimum of six to eight months or until she has reached pre-release size of four kilograms.

“Our aim is to get her back into the wild. She came in as a wild koala and as the law states, they need to be returned to the wild,” Dr Gillett said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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