Meet Bowie, the koala with a special eye oddity

The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital recently admitted Bowie, a koala with an extremely rare genetic condition.
By AG Staff Writer July 12, 2016 Reading Time: 2 Minutes

BOWIE THE KOALA was picked up by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit near Brendale, Queensland, last month after presumably being hit by a car.

While examination revealed she had luckily escaped major injury – it also revealed something very special about her: Bowie has an extremely rare genetic condition called heterochromia, which causes her eyes to be two entirely different colours.

Bowie koala

Image courtesy Australia Zoo

As a result of a recessive gene inherited from her parents, Bowie’s right eye is bright blue, while her left eye is a more common brown. Treating vet Dr Sharon Griffiths said the blue eye does not affect Bowie’s vision.

“Bowie’s heterochromia doesn’t affect how she sees the world around her, in fact her eyesight is great, exactly what we like to see in a young koala,” she said.

“Apart from being extremely lucky in avoiding injury on the road, she’s also incredibly unique as heterochromia isn’t a common occurrence in koalas; it’s more often found in domestic mammal species such as dogs and cats,” added Sharon.

Bowie koala

Image courtesy Australia Zoo

Despite clearing Bowie of any major trauma, Sharon administered fluids and pain relief to help with the slight limp in her left hind leg caused by bruising and transferred Bowie to the mammals Intensive Care Unit. Bowie was also found to have mild cystitis and was administered antibiotics to aid her recovery.

The aim is to eventually release Bowie back into the wild so she can help Queensland’s vulnerable koala population survive.

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