The story of Marlena the kangaroo

Marlena the kangaroo gets her bandage changed in the back of the van
Marlena and her joey Yo

Marlena is a much loved soft release kangaroo, looked after by the Davenport family on their farm property. She is a star patient at Vetwest Clarkson. Originally rescued by a veterinarian who no longer could look after her, the Davenport family adopted her several years ago. She lives on their property with several other kangaroos.

Marlena (like most kangaroos) has a daily feeding routine near the farm house so that her carers are able to keep an eye on her and make sure she is well.

For two weeks in December 2010, she went missing along with her joey, Yo, and did not come to her usual feeding areas. Her carers recognised from the change in their routine that they were in trouble and searched the farm for days. When they finally found the pair, Marlena had a deep oval shaped wound on her back leg, approximately 12cm long by 2.5cm wide. The wound was extensive, red and inflamed. It was also infected and this infection had spread up the leg to the ankle joint, resulting in a large abscess.

Marlena's abscess

Joint abscesses require intensive treatment in all animals. In kangaroos they are especially challenging due to limitations with handling (kangaroos can become very stressed when confined or handled) as well as difficulties with medications that can be used. Unfortunately in some situations joint abscesses in kangaroos cannot be resolved and the only option is humane euthanasia.

Over the course of 2 to 3 months, Marlena received intensive care and treatment from both her carers and her veterinary team. She underwent general anaesthetic twice for radiography of the infected area, surgical debridement of the wound and flushing of the abscess. Samples of the infected tissue were taken and sent to an external pathology laboratory to be cultured and to determine the most appropriate antibiotic for the infectious organisms present. Her carers gave her daily antibiotic injections, and regular anti-inflammatory and pain relief injections. She also returned to the clinic at Vetwest Clarkson every 2 to 4 days to have the wound re-bandaged.

Changing Marlena's bandage in the back of the van

Every effort was made to reduce Marlena's stress (bandage changes happened in the back of the van!) and it is only because of the amazing temperament of this particular kangaroo and the dedication of her carers that allowed Marlena to undergo such intensive treatment and result in a successful outcome.

It has now been 6 months since Marlena first came to Vetwest Clarkson with her horrendous injury. The perseverance of her carers, vets and nurses has paid off and she is back to her usual self. She will always have the major scarring on her leg to remind us of the severity of the injury from a cause we will never know. We hope she will never do it again!



Marlena resting
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