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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Students’ animal passion put to good use

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Kirsty Heseltine with an injured squirrel glider. Photo supplied
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Katie Hunt and Kirsty Heseltine look like two kids in a lolly store, except in this case their elation is not over sweets but rather wildlife.

Every year, echidnas, koalas, turtles, snakes, kookaburras, and many other exotic animals arrive at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for their wounds to be treated by the dedicated staff.

As veterinary nursing students from Kingscliff TAFE, Katie and Kirsty have been participating in 12 months work placement at the hospital as part of their animal studies qualification, which specialises in wildlife.

‘On top of caring for the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary animals, the hospital also admits more 8000 native animals brought in by the local community each year,’ says Katie.

Kirsty, who is dedicated to conservation of our native wildlife says she recognises the importance of education in forming strategies for humans and animals to co-exist.

‘The hospital offers us a hands-on environment in which to learn and assist the staff in working towards the ultimate goal of releasing these animals back into the wild,’ says Kirsty.

Mimi Dona, who teaches animal sciences North Coast TAFE says the unique co-delivery of this course between TAFE and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, allows students to learn the fundamental skills of veterinary nursing during valuable face to face time on campus, and then continue to develop these skills in a clinical environment.

‘Within the hospital the students rotate through four main areas which includes reception, wildlife rehabilitation, surgical procedures and general nursing of the animals from the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary,’ says Mrs Dona.

Katie Hunt treating an echidna.
Katie Hunt treating an echidna.

Michael Pyne, GM of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – Life Sciences, says it’s a pleasure to work with and teach a group of motivated nursing students passionate about wildlife.

‘Throughout the year, the students make a real contribution to treating and saving the native patients in our Wildlife Hospital. I know that graduating nurses can carry their wildlife knowledge into any future workplace and help make a difference,’ says Mr Pyne.

The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation relies on donations and corporate sponsors to fund the crucial work of the veterinary team, in treating, rehabilitating and releasing, sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife back into the wild.

To make a donation please visit http://cwhf.org.au/donate/

For more information on courses in Animal Studies please visit North Coast TAFE’s website www.northcoasttafe.edu.au or call the customer service 1300 628 233.


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