A grey-headed flying fox is back gliding through the night after life-saving surgery on a broken wing.
The female flying fox’s wing was badly injured when she was tangled in netting placed over fruit trees in Geelong, Victoria.
She was rescued and taken to Werribee Open Range Zoo’s veterinary hospital where she needed two operations to repair the wing.
Dr Paul Eden said the flying fox was in a very serious condition when she arrived.
“Flying foxes are highly dependent* on their wings for many purposes,” Dr Eden said.
“They can fly an astonishing 6000km in a year to search for food and pollinate a wide range of plants, supporting ecosystems* such as entire eucalypt forests, an important habitat for animals like koalas and possums.
“They also use their wings to help capture insects, regulate body temperature and attract other flying foxes during mating season.
“So, it was extremely important that we did everything we could to help this animal make a full recovery.”
Vets operated to remove some of the flying fox’s damaged wing tissue and also gave her antibiotics and pain relief medication.
Following the successful procedure, the flying fox was transferred to a wildlife carer to prepare her for release back into the wild.
Injured flying fox gets lifesaving surgery
Dr Eden said it was very rewarding to see the flying fox recover fully and safely return to the wild.
Grey-headed flying foxes are classified as vulnerable* in the wild, with their population declining due to habitat loss and the impacts of climate change, particularly extreme heat, drought and fires.
Dr Eden said flying foxes played a critical role in Australia’s ecosystem, not only for the survival of other native animals but also humans.
“Our ecosystem would be dramatically different, or cease to exist altogether, without flying foxes,” Dr Eden said.
“If we don’t have flying foxes, we don’t have forests. If we don’t have forests, we don’t have as much oxygen supply. They are critical to our survival.”
Dr Eden said there were some simple actions people could take to keep flying foxes safe, including reducing the risk of entanglements by using nets with a mesh size no bigger than 5mm x 5mm when fully stretched over vegetable gardens or fruit trees.
“If you encounter a flying fox that is sick or in distress, for the safety of everyone, don’t
attempt to rescue the animal yourself. Instead, contact Wildlife Victoria who will deploy a trained officer to rescue the animal,” Dr Eden said.
- dependent: relying on something
- ecosystems: groups of living things that live in and interact with each other in a specific environment
- vulnerable: considered to be at high risk of extinction in the wild
- How did the flying fox break her wing?
- Which zoo veterinary hospital was the flying fox taken to?
- How far can flying foxes fly in a year?
- Why are the important to the survival of koalas and possums?
- What classification do flying foxes have in the wild?
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1. Information poster
Highlight key facts about grey-headed flying foxes within this news story. Use the highlighted facts to help you create an information poster about the animal.
Your poster should include a title, a picture and paragraphs (with relevant subheadings) about three different topics related to them.
Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science
Draw a diagram to show some of the ways in which flying foxes contribute to a healthy ecosystem.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science
Imagine you were there during the event being discussed in the article, or for the interview.
Create a conversation between two characters from the article – you may need or want to include yourself as one of the characters.
Don’t forget to try to use facts and details from the article to help make your dialogue as realistic as possible.
Go through your writing and highlight any punctuation you have used in green. Make sure you carefully check the punctuation used for the dialogue and ensure you have opened and closed the speaking in the correct places.