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Research

Increasing our knowledge of species and the issues that are threatening their survival is a vital part of our work.

Our team is at the forefront of groundbreaking research in the field of wildlife conservation, and our techniques and results have made significant impact in wildlife circles throughout the world.

Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve

Steve Irwin began formal crocodile research in 1996. His capture and study techniques remain world's best to this day.

Many of the world's species are in danger of extinction. A number of these threatened species are cared for by both Australia Zoo and Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors.

Australia Zoo, in partnership with the University of Queensland (UQ) and Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, are making monumental strides in the field of crocodilian research and conservation.

This world renowned research project focuses on capturing and tagging Estuarine Crocodiles (commonly known as "salties") in the Wenlock River and fitting them with GPS-Satellite transmitters to track their movements and habits in far north Queensland.

GPS transmitters record and track crocodile behaviour, their position and physiology. Data is transmitted by satellite back to the laboratory and displayed on Google Earth.

This vital research has uncovered the distances crocodiles move, their ability to return to their habitat after relocation and revolutionary findings on their ability to remain submerged, and their behaviour during flood events.

Each research trip to the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve continues to break new ground in International Crocodile Research and is critical to managing the co-existence of crocodiles and people.

YOU CAN HELP! Learn more about how your organisation can Sponsor A Croc by visiting the Australia Zoo website.

Koala Research

The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital treats over 600 koalas each year, and is recognised internationally as the leading koala hospital.

Disease in koalas, causing significant morbidity and mortality, has been identified as a critical threatening process contributing to dramatic population decline. Although habitat loss and fragmentation are processes most implicated in koala population declines, disease is often a contributing factor to local population extirpation. In Queensland, the Premier’s recently-established Koala Taskforce identified disease as a key issue requiring significant funding.

Koala Chlamydiosis

This broad project involves collaboration with research teams at the Queensland University of Technology, University of Sydney and the University of Queensland. It aims to determine the most effective treatments for chlamydiosis in koalas; to determine the role of the koala retrovirus (KoRV) in the development of chlamydial disease, and to provide better prognostic indicators for clinicians treating the disease.

Chlamydiosis is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is endemic in most koala populations in Australia. It causes a variety of diseases including blindness, infertility, urinary tract infection and pneumonia. Nearly one half of all admissions of wild koalas to rehabilitation centres are due to chlamydial disease. As one of the key threatening processes affecting the survival of koalas in the wild, a better understanding of this debilitating disease is a high priority for conservation research.

Koala Retrovirus

Koala ResearchThis is an ongoing collaborative project with the University of Queensland examining the role of the koala retrovirus in leukaemia, immunodeficiency syndrome and related diseases in koalas. The virus was isolated and genetically sequenced in 1999 by the brilliant Dr Jon Hanger, providing a basis for further research into its role in koala disease. The diseases caused by this virus are invariably fatal, and are very common in both captive and wild koalas. They represent one of the key threatening processes affecting the long-term survival of koalas in the wild in Australia. Current research streams aim to determine the role that KoRV plays in chlamydial disease in koalas, and to determine the distribution of the virus across different koala populations in Australia.

Use of the anaesthetic agent alfaxalone (Alfaxan CD-RTU ®) in wildlifeAlfaxan CD-RTU is a relatively recently released anaesthetic registered for use in domestic cats and dogs in Australia. It shows great promise as a safe and reliable anaesthetic in a wide range of wild animals including reptiles, birds and mammals, with some significant advantages over agents commonly used in wildlife. The Australian Wildlife Hospital, which treats some 3000 wild animals every year, has been providing feedback to both the manufacturer and other veterinarians on the use of Alfaxan in wildlife.

Chlamydiae shedding by koalas

This collaborative project with the Chlamydia research group at the Queensland University of Technology examined the shedding of chlamydial organisms by koalas affected by chlamydial disease. Using a powerful molecular technique called real-time polymerase chain reaction, the shedding of infectious chlamydial particles could be accurately quantified over the course of treatment. This allowed critical analysis of the efficacy of current treatment regimes for chlamydiosis and determination of the infectiousness of koalas following treatment. The results confirmed that the current treatment regime used at the Australian Wildlife Hospital was very effective in eliminating the organism from infected koalas. This means that when koalas are released back into the wild following treatment they are no longer infectious to other koalas. The results of this study will be reported in scientific literature in the near future.