Flying Fox Receives Life-Saving Treatment at Melbourne-Area Zoo

A grey-headed flying fox underwent two life-saving operations at Werribee Open Range Zoo near Melbourne, Australia, after being found with a “significant” wing injury sustained when it got tangled in netting on a fruit tree, the zoo said.

The zoo said the injured animal was found in Geelong in January and rushed to Werribee Open Range Zoo’s veterinary hospital for care.

“Flying foxes are highly dependent on their wings for many purposes,” said Dr Paul Eden, a veterinarian at Werribee Open Range Zoo. "They can fly an astonishing 6,000 km (3,700 miles) in a year to search for food and pollinate a wide range of plants, supporting ecosystems such as entire eucalypt forests, an important habitat for animals like koalas and possums. They also use their wings to help capture insects, regulate body temperature, and attract other flying-foxes during mating season. So, it was extremely important that we did everything we could to help this animal make a full recovery.”

Vets removed some damaged wing tissue and administered antibiotics and
pain relief medication to the flying fox, and then handed the animal to a wildlife carer who prepared it to be released back into the wild, the zoo said.

Dr Eden said simple actions such as using nets with smaller mesh sizes can reduce the risk to flying foxes, which are classified as vulnerable in the wild, according to the zoo. People who encounter a flying fox “sick or in distress” were urged to contact wildlife officials.

“Our ecosystem would be dramatically different, or cease to exist altogether, without flying foxes. If we don’t have flying foxes, we don’t have forests, if we don’t have forests, we don’t have as much oxygen supply. They are critical to our survival,” Dr Eden was quoted as saying. Credit: Werribee Open Range Zoo via Storyful

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