Miracle Koala

When keeper Katie Tomlinson spotted a tiny blob on the floor of the koala barn, she realized it was a newborn koala joey. The hairless, jelly-bean-size baby had most likely fallen to the ground after birth, before it could climb into mom Nariah’s pouch. It’s unusual to find a newborn koala on the ground, and Katie was very concerned: she knew that time was of the essence if they were going to save this baby’s life. The infant was alive but cold—so Katie created a “nest” out of a warm towel. Then the baby and its mother were rushed to the San Diego Zoo’s hospital. While Nariah was prepped, the veterinary team filled a rubber glove with warm water and set the joey on the glove to keep it warm. Very carefully, veterinarian Tracy Clippinger placed the baby in Nariah’s pouch. After a tremendous amount of effort, she finally got its tiny mouth to latch on to its mother’s nipple. The big challenge, however, was to make sure the baby stayed in the pouch. Dr. Tracy placed a few loose sutures there to hold the baby in place. Now all they could do was wait to see if the baby would survive its traumatic first few hours of life. When Nariah was rechecked a week later, miraculously, the joey was alive—and it had grown! After the sutures were removed, the baby continued to thrive and grow. Today, several years later, that koala joey—a female named Toneleah—is not only alive, but she has also given birth to two of her own offspring.


End Extinction 2007 - 2016
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