It’s well known that the bond between a mother and her child is strong – but these adorable koalas took it to a whole new level by clinging together while one of them went through life-saving surgery. Six month old Phantom and mom Lizzy were hit by a car in Brisbane, Australia, leaving Lizzy with multiple injuries including a collapsed lung. Although Phantom was unhurt, he refused to let his mother go – crying when their rescuers tried to pull them apart. In the end, the pair was allowed to stay togther while Lizzy underwent emergency treatment, and Phantom stayed cuddled up to her side the whole way through.
Koalas are marsupials native to Australia, and live most of their lives up in the treetops. This makes them extra vulnerable when they come down to ground level – something which likely contributed to Phantom and Lizzy’s accident. Photos of the koalas hugging during surgery, which quickly went viral, not only warmed hearts, but also raised concerns about the impact of deforestation on koalas’ habitats, as cutting down trees is a big part of the reason why more of the species are on the move.
Although koalas usually live alone once they reach adulthood, joeys stay with their mothers for around a year, leaving their pouch after six months to travel around on mom’s back. It’s thought that Phantom had only just come out when the accident happened and, as you can tell, he definitely wasn’t ready to let go yet!
Lizzy was treated at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, which was founded by the late Steve Irwin and his wife Terri. There, staff decided that keeping Phantom close would help to keep both mother and joey safe and calm. Luckily, it worked, and this story has a happy ending – Lizzy’s treatment was a great success, and after some recovery time, both of them have been released back into the wild to carry on their adventures together.