A gray or brownish koala may result more familiar to you. But odd things happen, and after curing thousands of gray koalas at her vet hospital, Cheyne Flanagan had the surprise to meet this Scandinavian-like kola.
This koala male, dubbed Mick, is a genetic oddity, due to its white fur instead of the usually gray/brown, but with normal black eyes and nose. The eyes and nose's color means the individual is not an albino, as in that case it would have had
pink eyes and nose. Albinos are also more frequent.
Like in the case of albinos, the white fur color is also determined by a recessive gene. Just a handful of white koalas are known in Australia.
Mick was encountered completely blind and full of diseases by a forest ranger and transported to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, north of Sydney (New South Wales). The male was isolated and got immediate round-the-clock security protection through security cameras against stealing, as this type of individuals are highly valuable for collectors.
The koala underwent eye operation and after being treated with an antibiotic cream twice a day for two weeks gradually recovered to full health. His blindness was caused by chlamydia, a bacterium that also causes sterility and urinary tract infections in koalas (and humans, too), causing them a condition named 'dirty tail' or 'wet bottom'. But unlike in humans, Chlamydia can be deadly in koalas.
Now Mick has been released into the wild in Eastern Australia after months of treatment, but in a secret location.
"Mick's eyes looked like "red cabbages" when it was found, and underwent an operation to remove diseased flesh. We kept him isolated from the other koalas not only for health reasons but because we didn't want too many people to know we even had him with us. Only a handful of staff were told about him, just in case word got about," said Flanagan.
Rangers will track Mick, monitoring its health. "At least we shouldn't have too much trouble in finding him. He's one little fellow who will stand out in the crowd. One good thing is that he hasn't been rejected by other koalas. He's just part of the big family, even if he is a little different.", Flanagan added.