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Jann Stuckey, Heidi the handler with Andy the Koala, Paul Whitehead and Michael Pyne at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Photo by : Blainey Woodham
BUSINESS is strengthening its understanding of the vital link koalas play between conservation and the economy on the Tweed-Gold Coast.
Central to this connection is the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and its hospital, which cares for and protects iconic native animals such as the koala.
Seventy-thousand dollars over two years was announced by Zarraffa’s Coffee in support of the Wildlife Hospital only a few months ago.
But the buck is not stopping there.
Added to the support today is $60,000 from Coast-based business World Tourism to build the hospital a new recovery enclosure and $10,000 for medical equipment and supplies.
Sanctuary CEO Jonathan Fisher said the enclosure would help the hospital expand on its stellar ability to care for injured animals immediately and limited capacity for their long-term rehabilitation.
“This spring has been one of the worst on record, with 70 koalas rescued in as many days,” Mr Fisher said.
“Some days we’ll get four or five a day and, with only five holding cages, it’s causing issues.
“The fact World Tourism will fund another facility – it’s gold.”
Currumbin MP Jann Stuckey helped facilitate the donation to the hospital she said treated an average of 6500 animals each year.
“The dedicated staff at the hospital work tirelessly, with costs soaring up to $600,000 per year,” Ms Stuckey said.
“Were it not for the generosity of organisations like World Tourism, senior veterinarian Michael Pyne says staff would have to reduce operating hours or turn away sick animals for lack of funding.
“This would be devastating as the hospital looks after animals across an enormous area covering much of the Gold Coast and northern NSW.”
Mr Fisher said plans were in place to ensure the koala is a – or the – mascot for the 2018 Commonwealth Games; such is its importance to the tourism dollar.
“What the city is doing is trying to ensure the long-term future of the koala, which is among the top-two reasons international visitors come here.
“There’s no way we can let the koala decline in the wild and only exist in captivity; that would be unacceptable.
“This hospital is deliberately not behind-the-scenes now: we get visitors through here to have a look, and understand its importance.”
As Shadow Tourism Minister Ms Stuckey agreed the sanctuary and koalas were important to the area as international tourist attractions and held a special place in the hearts of locals.
“I feel a deep bond with this place and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure its doors stay open for many years to come,” she said.
The sanctuary is running a Be Part of Something Big by Doing Something Small campaign to encourage business investment in its vital work.
Visit cws.org.au for more information.
By Colin Gilmore | 16th March 2012 2:43 PM