In her four-year career as a veterinarian, Meg Rodgers had never thought she was going to perform an emergency caesarean section on a bobtail lizard.

Important points:

  • Perth is Australia’s first holistic wildlife trauma hospital
  • It provides rescue, surgery, and rehabilitation for native animals
  • Veterinarians develop innovative surgical procedures for injured wildlife

“It’s definitely not your average surgery, that’s for sure,” she said.

Dr. Rodgers is not your average veterinarian. She works on the front lines of Australia’s first holistic trauma hospital for native wildlife.

The hospital in the southern suburbs of Perth provides special emergency care for injured animals and rehabilitates them for release.

“It’s never boring,” said Dr. Rodgers as she removed the fishhook from a pelican’s beak.

“You hardly ever see the same thing twice.

“There are a lot of different animals coming in that need help … you just have to try to find a way to save them.

“There are no textbooks about it, you just have to innovate a little and find out.”

The pelican would almost certainly have died if its injuries had not been treated. (

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WA Wildlife Trauma Hospital opened in April and has rescued dozens of seriously injured animals that would otherwise have been euthanized.

The facility mirrors any modern human hospital – it has an intensive care unit, recovery stations, radiological equipment and even a decontamination chamber.

“Wildlife medicine in Australia is still in its infancy and we are essentially pioneers in many new techniques that were previously not possible,” said hospital manager Dean Huxley.

“We are now able to do all kinds of procedures like skin grafts, orthopedic repairs on really tiny animals, microsurgery and electrosurgery.

Mr Huxley said the internal rescue to release the model is unlike any other wildlife facility in the country.

“We can essentially manage the animal from rescue to release.

Dr. Rodgers performed an emergency caesarean section on a bobtail lizard.

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“We couldn’t find this anywhere else where this animal is treated holistically from start to finish.”

Admissions come in through the door every day, be it from other wildlife care groups with fewer resources or from members of the public.

“It can be anything from a little honey eater flown into a window to an emu burned in a bushfire in a paddock,” Huxley said.

He said human behavior is responsible for most of the harm to animals.

“Our top 3 are vehicle incidents, cat attacks and entanglements,” he said.

A woman holds a tangle of fishing line and hooks

Dr. Rodgers’ collection of fishing line and hooks pulled from injured animals over a 12 month period. (

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“We see hundreds of animals every year with hooks, fishing line and all sorts of necrotic limbs because of this chronic entanglement.

“It’s getting more and more common.”

Big gaps in wildlife medicine

The animals are looked after by a small team of veterinarians like Dr. Rodgers treated and cared for by volunteers.

“It is always very rewarding to see an animal that is in such a condition that it would not have previously been able to harm you in order to be able to repair it,” she said.

“It is very rewarding to have her undergo surgery and ongoing rehab and see her released at the end of the day.

“It’s hard work, that’s for sure, but that’s what we’re here for.”

A veterinarian is standing in an empty operating room The veterinarian Dr. Meg Rodgers says that no day is the same in her work. (

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Dr. Rogers said while pet health care is well advanced in Australia, there are gaps in wildlife medicine and rehab.

Of course, not all animals can be saved.

“We’re doing as much as we can,” said Dr. Rodgers.

“For these animals to survive in the wild, they need to be reasonably fit and healthy.

“If, for example, it is a flown animal and we cannot restore its flight, unfortunately the only option for them is often euthanasia.”

Resident rescue animals that change human behavior

WA Wildlife worked in a tiny old on-site cottage that is now being converted into an educational facility for more than two decades.

30 different former rescue animals live permanently in specially built enclosures in the backyard, including two dingoes, a wombat, snakes and emus.

A woman hugs a dingo while sitting on a wooden frame shadow structure The hospital also houses two lifebuoys. (

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“We want people to come down and have the opportunity to see wildlife,” said Huxley.

“You can make that connection with the animal, get this love for that animal, and then go through our hospital and see an operation.

“They can have that click moment that, ‘Oh, my behavior is causing this result,’ and then they will walk away with a little better appreciation for how they can help wildlife.

A woman wearing a beige shirt is standing in front of a green bush Karen Clarkson is the Rehabilitation Manager at WA Wildlife. (

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The hospital also offers programs for schools.

“The whole purpose is just to teach the next generation how to treat the environment and help these animals,” said rehabilitation manager Karen Clarkson.

“Some of the children have never had the opportunity to see or stroke these animals.

A wombat is fed an cob of corn. WA Wildlife resident rescue wombat Vinnie is fed a corn on the cob. (

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“It’s pretty unique. I mean, if you get the chance to pat wombat, there is no better experience!”

Volunteers work out of love, passion

As the work increases, the organization intends to expand its partnership with a nearby university.

“We are exploring some long-term opportunities with Murdoch University in the form of research, but also in providing better wildlife medicine programs and teaching the next generation of veterinarians how to care for wildlife,” said Huxley.

In the WA Wildlife facility, feed is prepared for the animals being looked after The feed is prepared for the animals cared for in the hospital. (

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“We’re not for-profit so we’re not working to get a financial outcome, but rather to get an outcome in the best interests of these animals.

“Everyone does this out of love, out of passion and everyone supports the cause.”

The hospital is funded through a partnership with the City of Cockburn and is part of a larger $ 6 million environmental and wildlife reserve under construction on Bibra Lake.

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