Kiss of life for Sir Chompsalot

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IOL pic july28 koala stock image Associated Press File picture: Rob Griffith

Melbourne -

A lucky koala was recovering on Friday after being caught by firefighters when it fell unconscious from a tree before being given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Emergency crews were called to the Melbourne suburb of Langwarrin on Thursday night after reports that an injured animal was lying on the road after being hit by a car.

When officials arrived, they found the furry native marsupial had climbed a tree for shelter and firefighters were brought in to bring it down.

“We believed it had died in the tree, just when we were trying to rescue it,” Langwarrin Country Fire Authority's Sean Curtin told Fairfax radio.

“Then it fell out of the tree and the members caught it in a blanket.”

A wildlife officer on the scene then performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while another rescuer pumped its chest to revive its heart.

“We put it on O2 oxygen therapy to assist in getting some oxygen into the blood flow of the koala,” Curtin added.

The koala - nicknamed Sir Chompsalot by the firefighters - was taken to the Animalia Wildlife Shelter where he was “well and eating” on Friday.

Thought to number in excess of 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788, there are now believed to be as few as 43 000 koalas left in the wild, though their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count.

Habitat loss is considered the single greatest threat facing the koala population.

Wildlife Victoria said it received more than 50 000 emergency calls over the past year involving native animals, with 1 600 concerning koalas.

The most common reason was car accidents, followed by dog attacks.

“It's not uncommon for koalas to get hit by cars, and certainly our emergency response service does get calls in regional areas quite a bit,” Wildlife Victoria's Amy Amato told reporters. - Sapa-AFP


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