Tasmanian Devil released into the wild after recovering from serious leg injury

A Tasmanian devil with horrific leg injuries has been brought back to health and released into the wild.

“Clownfish” was brought to the vets at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary by members of the Save the Tasmanian Devil program, who had hunted down the devil and noticed she was in distress.

The one-year-old Devil had lost much of the skin on his right front leg, an injury known as a stripping.

“We don’t know exactly how he suffered the injury, he may have been caught in a trap or been in a traffic accident,” said Bonorong veterinarian Luke Gregory.

The lack of skin made it impossible to stitch and very susceptible to infections.

The Tasmanian Devil has undergone weeks of rehabilitation at the shrine.(Provided: Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary)

Bonorong vets were faced with a dilemma: amputating the leg and reducing the risk of infection, or treating the wound and hoping it would heal naturally.

“One of the concerns we had was that it might not have been able to close on its own,” Dr Gregory said.

Despite the risks, the team began bandaging the leg three times a week for a month, which proved difficult when dealing with a wild animal.

“Devils don’t like bandages, so there came a point where we had to take them off and leave them as an open wound,” Dr Gregory said.

Eventually the wound began to heal.

“You talk about a millimeter a day,” he said. “The whole treatment process probably took eight to 10 weeks.”

Juvenile Tasmanian devil treated by wildlife keepers.
The wildlife wardens had to put Clownfish to sleep to change their dressings.(Provided: Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary)

Night vision cameras installed in Clownfish’s compound showed that she was finally able to resume walking on her leg and, once able to move around, began to gain weight.

In the space of a few months, a small two-kilogram clownfish gained one kilogram more.

With her recovery now complete, the team were able to release her back into the wild.

“[Clownfish was] released on a reserve near Buckland, away from busy areas and people, so she should have a good chance, ”Dr Gregory said.

“You capture the victories”

An injured devil is brought to Bonorong about once a month, and most fall victim to human interactions.

“We would love to see everyone in Tasmania spend a week with us and see what we see,” said Bonorong director Greg Irons.

“We would change so much in our everyday life. We would change the way we drive, the way we take care of our pets, we would think more when we put up a fence or put down rat or snail bait.”

There are now less than 15,000 Tasmanian devils left in the wild, and their population is in rapid decline, due to the disease impact of devil’s facial tumors and cars.

Veterinary monitor tight on the leg of a young Tasmanian devil.
Wildlife vets were surprised the young devil was able to recover from his horrific injury.(Provided: Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary)

Mr Irons said that while seeing a member of an endangered species recover is “fantastic,” Bonorong’s team put the same amount of effort into every creature brought to them.

“I speak for all the pet stores, both in Australia and around the world, when I say people don’t realize the love, care and cost of an animal,” he said. .

Rehabilitation work in Bonorong is funded by visitors to the sanctuary and donors, and caring for animals like clownfish for months is expensive.

Mr Irons hopes to see fewer injured wildlife walk through his door in 2022.

“New Years is a great time to make resolutions,” he said.

“We would like people to consider taking five minutes, sitting under a tree, watching a bird and thinking, ‘How can I live better with wildlife? “”

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