- Former staff of Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital claim animals have been placed at risk while TV segments filmed
ANIMALS at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital were left under anaesthetic for dangerous amounts of time while TV segments starring matriarch Terri Irwin were filmed, according to former staff.
Sources verified to The Courier-Mail examples of animals being placed in “risky” situations to cater for media projects and VIP visits.
These included koalas being knocked out for extended periods for Irwin filming and a star jabiru dying after being forced to fly in a heatwave.
Sources said vet staff were required to have a “patient on the table” for filming, meaning the animal was often under anaesthetic for an “unnecessary” period.
In one example, a koala was knocked out for 45 minutes — three times longer than the optimal time of 15 minutes — because filming was running late.
The risky practice can endanger an animal.
The Irwins’ VIP group tours were another cause for concern as they could disturb sick or injured animals.
After one visit, a vet nurse who raised concerns about the group entering the intensive care unit and potentially disturbing a koala with head trauma that was on seizure watch, was allegedly placed on night shift as punishment and eventually quit.
ALLEGATIONS: Irwin family’s zoo hospital in crisis
A protocol was issued to ensure staff knew the Irwins should not be told when they could or could not enter.
The same managers who were in charge of the hospital have also been blamed for making decisions that placed captive animals’ lives in danger.
A jabiru was eaten by a crocodile when it landed in the wrong location last year.
During a heatwave, sources said management decided the bird should fly despite warnings it was exhausted and disoriented.
It missed its target and landed in the crocodile enclosure where staff saw it die.
A zoo spokeswoman said it was “untrue” animals were kept under extended anaesthetic or that a staff member was punished for speaking out, and said the jabiru “misjudged the landscape due to unforeseen circumstancesOriginally published as Claims: Zoo put the ‘KO’ in koala