Supporters and wildlife veterinarians came together at the Ballina RSL Club yesterday to launch a crowdfunder for Australia’s largest mobile wildlife hospital. This was the first major event at the club since it reopened in the wake of COVID-19.
Northern Rivers vets Dr Stephen Van Mil and Dr Evan Kosack came up with the idea for the mobile wildlife hospital after over 1 billion native animals lost their lives in the 2019-20 bush fires. They said many deaths could have been averted if specialist wildlife rescue and medical care facilities had been able to get to priority areas.
So far they’ve raised $180,000 of the $700,000 needed to build, equip and operate the Mobile Wildlife Hospital, to be based here in the Northern Rivers but able to travel throughout Australia, to wherever injured wildlife are in crisis. The hospital is planned to be operational by September 2020.
Speakers at the launch included the animal hospital’s CEO and founder, Dr Stephen Van Mil, model and animal activist Elyse Knowles and Ballina RSL CEO Bill Coulter.
‘Treating traumatised and injured native animals is a specialist field,’ said Dr Van Mil. ‘Without specialist vets, nurses and the right equipment, rehabilitation and recovery is much less likely, putting the individual animal and full species at risk.’
So far, the project has attracted generous support from Seven Mile Brewing Company, the Ballina RSL (who have committed $120,000) and Wild Ark, from the United Nations Development Program.
The vets estimate that if they reach their target, the hospital could facilitate the treatment and rehabilitation of 10,000 native animals over the coming year.
‘There are a lot of resources required to do this, which is why we’re calling on the public to help us through a crowdfunding campaign and fundraising activities,’ said Dr Van Mil. ‘The need and timing have never been greater.’
People can also support the project by buying Koala Lager from Seven Mile Brewing Company, who are urging lager lovers to ‘crack one for the koalas’. Two dollars from the sale of every can is going to support the new wildlife hospital.
You can find out more about the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital and get behind the crowdfunder at www.byronbaywildlifehospital.org/.