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Disease claims SA koala in Chinese wildlife program

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An incurable disease has claimed the life of one of three South Australian koalas sent to Hong Kong as part of a wildlife research program.

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Three-year-old Merinda, a southern koala, was euthanised on Monday after unsuccessful treatment for a non-contagious kidney condition.

Merinda, with Dougie and Yani, were sent from Cleland Wildlife Park to Hong Kong’s Ocean Park in October 2014 and have been a popular attraction since they went on display in March last year.

Environment Minister Ian Hunter said the condition that killed Merinda was common to koalas.

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Merinda

“I am sorry to advise that one of three koalas sent to Hong Kong as part of the Koalas to China project was euthanised yesterday due to ill health,” Hunter said.

“Unfortunately Merinda developed oxalate nephrosis, a non-contagious kidney condition common to koalas both in captivity and in the wild. This condition was not due to environmental factors or diet.

“Merinda was treated for several months by vets from Ocean Park and Cleland and after an initial positive response, proceeded to decline to the point where a team of expert veterinarians, including Cleland’s vet, made the decision to euthanise her yesterday.”

The koalas are part of Adventures in Australia, one of a number of exotic animal viewing and handling attractions at Ocean Park.

The exhibition also includes red-necked wallabies, kookaburras and an “up-close look at native Aborigines’ eco-friendly lifestyle”.

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Ocean Park’s Adventures in Australia

Hunter said everything was done to save Merinda.

“Ocean Park has a full-time veterinarian experienced in all aspects of koala health and management but despite the best care, suitable venue and appropriate diet, Merinda was unable to be restored to health,” he said.

“Ocean Park and the South Australian Government have developed a strong relationship, with the aim of conducting further research into the conservation and understanding of the southern koala.

“While there is presently no clinical test for oxalate nephrosis in koalas, Ocean Park will support research in South Australia to understand the disease and advance diagnostic techniques.”

 

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