For the love of birds

4 March 2022

Giving generously to animals in need

The University community has banded together for a citizen science project to investigate the cause of lorikeet paralysis syndrome in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales regions of Australia.

Lorikeet Paralysis Syndrome (LPS) is a disease occurring in wild rainbow lorikeets that causes the birds to become paralysed and unable to fly.

Birds present with a distinctive voice change, some unable to blink, and in severe cases unable to swallow. It results in thousands of rainbow lorikeets being admitted into care each year across south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales.

Map of lorikeet paralysis syndrome cases.

Rainbow lorikeets with LPS initially require intensive care followed by long-term rehabilitation, wearing on the resources of both veterinarians and wildlife carers.

The cause of lorikeet paralysis is not yet known and until the cause is discovered, means of prevention and optimised treatment protocols cannot be developed.

Without the Animals in Need Fund, sick and injured wildlife and pets could miss out on urgent, lifesaving treatments.

Research and care for suffering animals

Professor David Phalen from the School of Veterinary Science believes that LPS may be caused by lorikeets feeding on a toxic plant growing in southern QLD and northern NSW.

With the support of the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), in 2021 Professor Phalen asked to University community to join him in his investigation.

Fifty-six generous alumni registered their interest in becoming ‘citizen scientists’ for the project, recording their observations of what local rainbow lorikeets were feeding on.

Data gathered from the project is helping Professor Phalen to determine which plants that lorikeets feed on during times when lorikeet paralysis occurs and when it doesn't so that a short list of plants that might be the cause of the disease can be developed.

Thank you to our alumni and donor community for helping contribute to this critical research.

Give today to animals in need

The Animals in Need Fund helps the University treat animals whose owners cannot afford to pay for their care. The fund also supports treatment for strays and injured wildlife. Your generous gift could mean that more animals receive the treatment they desperately need.

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