A caring member of the public stopped to assist when they saw what had happened. They were certain that they saw both mum and her joey get hit, but they couldn’t find little Hugo anywhere at the scene. Our Animal Ambulance arrived to assist. After another rescue, the Redlands Afterhours Wildlife Ambulance (RAWA) also came to help in the search for the joey in nearby bushland, but little Hugo was nowhere to be found. As you can imagine, it was quite distressing for all involved not being able to find him.
Just after 8.00am the next morning, RAWA received a call from a woman saying that her daughter had come home late last night very distressed because she had hit a koala, but was too scared to stop.
That morning, little Hugo was found behind the grill of the car, and still alive!
Volunteers from RAWA and our RSPCA Animal Ambulance headed out to rescue little Hugo. They removed the grill, rescued the joey and transported him immediately to our RSPCA Wildlife Hospital at Wacol.
Hugo was assessed by our wildlife veterinarians. Miraculously, he had sustained no major physical injuries but was treated for a hemoabdomen (the accumulation of blood within the peritoneal cavity). It’s hard to imagine how this little koala survived the road accident, travelled around 10kms afterwards in the grill, and remained there until the next morning relatively unscathed!
After close monitoring for any other signs of illness or injury at the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital, it was time for Hugo to find an experienced wildlife carer to rear him until he was able to make it on his own in the wild. Hugo was brought into the Wildlife Hospital for regular health checks over the next few months.
As Hugo grew and gained weight, learned how to eat and chew leaves, climb little trees, he was transferred to our RSPCA rehabilitation facility to learn how to climb bigger trees, pluck his own leaves and build up his muscles. Hugo thrived and was eventually able to be released back into the wild on April 12.
Here are some beautiful photos from wildlife rescuer John Knights who was able to release Hugo back to his mum’s home range, away from busy roads! John said he was “a bit hesitant at first, he soon bolted up the tree, started looking around and settled into a comfy fork.”
Hugo is now tagged and roaming the Bayside Conservation area.
We know that hitting an animal on our roads can be traumatic, but if you can when safe to do so, please stop to check pouches (and even car grills!). Read more on our tips here for sharing the road with wildlife and how you can help.
For 24/7 advice and assistance call our Animal Emergency Hotline 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).
Thank you to our wonderful wildlife carers and rescue groups that help make rehabilitating animals like Hugo possible! John has been a wildlife rescuer for many years. He says, “It doesn’t matter what my name is because there are lots of other people doing what I do; we rescue all wildlife regardless of what they are believing that “all animals are equal, but NONE are more equal than others”. We rescue the cuddly, the thorny, the furred, the feathered, the scaly, the smelly, the flighted, the slithery, the bitey and the scratchy.”
Hugo came into RSPCA care right when we were in the thick of fire-affected wildlife rescues and displaced wildlife cases was on the rise. Our photographer Peter was pretty chuffed to be able to call this little joey, Hugo.