A 9-month-old koala who lost his mother in a car accident is finding solace with a plush toy that reminds him of his caretaker.
Shayne lost his mother after she was hit by a vehicle in a 70 km per hour (43 mph) speed zone, according to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. The pair was moving around during the warmer months when koalas are more vulnerable to road accidents, as they are potentially looking for a mate or dispersing from their mother’s territory.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, the country’s largest koala treatment facility, unfortunately couldn’t save Shayne’s mother, who was killed instantly. Trauma is one of the leading causes of admission to the hospital, following disease.
Shayne was riding on his mom’s back at the time of the accident and was thrown off from the impact. He was found about 65 feet away and was being chased by crows.
“Shayne has no injuries as a result of the accident, instead, he’s dealing with the loss of his mom and the vital life lessons he needs to learn in order to become an independent, wild koala,” said Dr. Rosie Booth, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital director.
“It’s very fortunate that we had an observant rescuer who found Shayne and brought him into us because he wouldn’t have lasted even a day in the wild by himself at his young age — now he gets a second chance at life,” she added.
Shayne will need to learn necessary climbing and social skills from other young koalas at the hospital before being released to the wild.
Until he reaches an acceptable weaning age and weight, however, Shayne will remain with a dedicated wildlife carer, where he gets constant attention, food and comfort, which includes a stuffed toy koala that the hospital says he has clung to in the absence of this mother.