Not always cute and cuddly: Volunteer bitten by koala
KOALAS may look cute and cuddly but they can still cause serious harm.
It's a lesson Friends of the Koala volunteer and secretary Aliison Kelly had to learn the hard way after being bitten on the hand during a rescue.
While fellow volunteers were at the funeral of long-time Friends of the Koala member Pat Barnidge on Monday, Ms Kelly was called to a rescue a few hundred metres from her house.
"(Pat) had actually said to me 'don't go out (on your first rescue) unless you have someone with you' but because it was on the day of her funeral... I went and did it."
Ms Kelly said she was bitten on the thumb while lowering the sick koala into a basket.
"Because it was cold and stiff and not moving at all, I picked it up from the front," she said.
"But because of my lack of experience … as my hand put its hand down into the basket, it turned and grabbed my thumb.
"Unfortunately for me, my hand got infected really quickly and within four hours the whole back of my hand was quite swollen."
Ms Kelly said her GP referred her to Lismore Base Hospital and on Tuesday night she had to be put under anesthetic while the wound was cleaned out.
She is now resting and on antibiotics waiting for the wound to heal.
"It's taught me a very big lesson," she said.
"Even where they're in their death throes they're still a powerful, strong wild animal and you have to respect that."
Ms Kelly said the incident had not deterred her and praised the work of the volunteer koala rescue group.
She said she would urge everyone to program the Friends of the Koala hotline number into their phones and take care on the roads, particularly at night.
Call it in
Friends of the Koala urges anyone who finds a sick, injured or orphaned koala on the Northern Rivers to call the 24-hotline on 6622 1233.
For more information about the organisation or to volunteer go to http://www.friendsofthekoala.org