Pan Da the koala a Redland City star

Redland City Councils star Facebook marsupial, Pan Da the Koala, was once again released into Redlands bushland recently, with a clean bill of health from Australia Zoo hospital, where he spent the previous two months being treated for cystitis.

The unassuming Pan Da, who has become the poster koala for Redland City Council’s campaign to reverse the decline in this locally critically endangered species, was happy to be home, scampering up a nearby tree to avoid all the fuss.

Redland City Councillor Wendy Boglary said that while saving every koala is vital, Pan Da koala is special, helping to raise the profile of this species and what we can all do to assist in its survival.

She thanked staff from airline V Australia who attended the release and who have played a key role in delivering Pan Da’s urgent conservation message to overseas visitors flying to Australia.

“Today gives us the opportunity to publicly thank them for helping to communicate to a broader audience the dire straits our koalas find themselves in and actions we can take to ensure they survive,” she said.

Pan Da is so named because he was delivered to his carer on the first day of the 2008 Beijing Olympics after being struck by a car.

He was nursed back to health and released into the wild early in 2009, but was taken back into care in February for treatment of his cystitis.

He has over 12,000 fans on his Pan Da Facebook page, which keeps them updated on his travels and adventures in the wild with the help of a tracking device.

Following his initial release, Pan Da was subsequently animated as the star of three videos on his own website, pandathekoala.com.au

These videos spread the simple messages that southeast Queensland koalas are in serious trouble and explain how individuals can help keep them safe.

V Australia team members discovered the entertaining online animations, and developed an affinity for the battling koala, subsequently inviting Council to feature the Pan Da videos as inflight entertainment on all incoming V Australia flights from October last year.

Redland Mayor Melva Hobson said that urbanisation and loss of habitat puts local koalas at increasing risk of being struck by vehicles on local roads, attacked by dogs and succumbing to disease, such as cystitis, often as a result of stressful events.

“Many of the koalas that we have in the Redlands are truly urban, living in local parks and backyards and crossing our streets,” she said.

“Collectively, we have altered their habitat and put them at grave risk of extinction within years.

“Together we must act to reverse this trend.

“Redland City Council has formulated a Koala Strategy and Koala Action Plan, which is a multipronged approach to improving prospects for koalas. But it will take the combined and concerted efforts of Council, the Queensland Government and the community to reverse this trend.”