Autopsy Reports

This page contains photographs that might be upsetting to some,
and could be deemed to be too graphic for younger people.

We haved posted these photographs
with the intention of helping those caring for Australian wildlife.



May ( Western Grey kangaroo joey)
Euthansed - 4th August 2003
This joey arrived with no developed tail.
After much discussion with several Veterinary Surgeons
we were advised she should be euthansed.
Her body was then offered to Murdoch University
and the autopsy was performed with students present.
No developed tail
May tail stump

Part of the Roo Gully letter sent to Murdoch University in Perth - 5th August 2003

Arrived at Roo Gully after mother killed in a road accident. Female joey, cold on arrival.
Weight: 748 grams
Foot Measurement: 143 mm
This joey is approximately 185 days old.
Typical of this age is no fur, eyes open, and ears free and upright.
Students can also see the pronounced thymus glands, and the fact that at this age
although there is a pouch there are no teats.

Joeys brought into care and into veterinary hospitals following road accidents often sustain injuries, some of which can be difficult to detect. This joey has an obvious head injury, but of course we do not know the extent or severity of this, and we noticed bruising to the legs and the possibility of a fracture to the large toe of the left foot.
It would be interesting for us to know what internal injuries she had, especially any bleeding or swelling in the brain.

We have been caring for orphaned marsupials for many years, and this is the first joey we have come across with no developed tail. We suspect in this case it is a congenital deformity, but during our study into joey development,
where we filmed and documented the lives of 11 joeys born at Roo Gully all the way throughout their pouch life and beyond, we often filmed mothers cleaning and toileting their joeys inside the pouch, some rather over enthusiastically, and there could be a possibility the mother amputated her joey's tail when it was very young.
We have film of one mother in particular taking her joey's hind limbs and tail into her mouth while cleaning her.

If you think this is a birth defect, then we wonder if there could be reason, other than the fact that congenital deformities occur in all species. We ask this because this joey was orphaned in an area from where we have received other joeys over the past few years with unusual problems. These have varied from stunted growth to some having undershot jaws, and others having smaller hearts and lungs. This area has become a tree farming region where they carry out aerial spraying which affects all wildlife below. So could chemicals cause this kind of defect?

We thank you very much for reading this and would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this case. We have photographed and filmed this joey for our own study records, and will be posting this case, on our web site.

May's Autopsy Report will be posted on this site soon.

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Milly ( Western Grey kangaroo joey)
Died - 26th April 2003

Roo Gully Report:

24th April 2004
Injured, very old, Western Grey doe discovered in pine plantation by tree workers.
Doe sedated with Diazepam and transported to Roo Gully Veterinary Clinic.
Veterinary examination revealed collapsed right lung, severe congestion in left lung, consistent with the doe lying on her side for a long period of time, perhaps several days. Rectal temperature 35C - hypothermic. Severe spinal injured and possible internal injuries.
Vet decides to euthanase her.
Joey removed from pouch before mother euthanased.

Joey - Milly
Weight: 169 grams
Eyes closed - Ears flat to head
Approx. age: 75 days
Severe bruising noticed under right arm extending around and under shoulder blade
Joey cold and suffering from diarhoea - possibly because mother was slowly dying

Placed in humidicrib - temperature kept between 36C - 38C

Wombaroo <.4 Kangaroo Replacement
Optimal daily intake 40mls - 5mls x 8 per day + Impact Cholosterum
Sucked fairly well the first day

25th April 2003
Milly losing weight despite feeding well through the night and in the morning.
Will not take more than 6mls per feed, or take at more frequent intervals.
Diarrhoea getting worse.
As day went on Milly more reluctant to feed, sucking more slowly and getting weaker.
Also having more problems holding body temperature when out of humidicrib to feed.
Bruising appearing below right ribs on abdomen.

26th April 2003
Lost a further 11 grams in weight overnight.
Still sucking slowly, but getting more difficult with each feed.
Bruising under ribs spreading.
Hydrated with 5mls Hartmanns fluid - sub cutaneously.

Milly died at 8.15pm.
Final weight: 130grams - total weight loss of 39grams.

Post Mortem Comments:
We did not perform an autopsy, but did take these photographs after death.

These 2 photographs show the bruising to Milly's right arm, shoulder and back.

Milly bruising to back
Milly bruising to arm

And these 2 photographs show the bruising under her rib cage.

Milly bruising abdomen
Milly bruising abdomen

Because of this bruising, especially the bruise under her rib cage, which was situated over the liver, we suspect she had internal injuries.
These could have occurred when her mother fell over the fence and injured herself, or could have been caused by the mother thrashing on the ground in an attempt to get up.

Whichever, it proves that as carers we must always assume any pouched young could be suffering from internal injuries and not just those orphaned in road accidents.

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Missy - Western Brush wallaby
Died: 10am - 5th August 2004

Roo Gully Report sent with Missy's body to Murdoch University in Perth - 6th August 2004

19th March 2004
Arrived at Roo Gully after mother killed in road accident near Collie.
Joey had no apparent injuries and appeared to be in good health.
Usual however to note she did not have any ticks, but she had spent 25 hours at Collie Veterinary Hospital
during which time they could have vacated.

Measurements on Arrival:
Weight - 1.275 kilograms
Tail measurement - 425 mms
Foot measurement - 160 mms

Medical Problems:
Appeared to be in good health throughout her time in care, with no episodes of diarrhoea
17th May it was noticed her urine was slightly darker and redder in colour -
milk formula was changed to a weaker brand and solution - problem cleared up with no other treatment

2nd August
Came into house during the evening and looked lethargic - still feeding
We noticed she had lost what appeared to be a massive amount of weight in a very short period -
maybe as much as 500 grams in 36 hours
Wormed with Virbamec - 0.3ml (Pour On) - Active constituent - Abgmectin 5mg/ml
Still feeding as usual
Stayed inside the house during the night

3rd August
Rapid decline overnight - lethargic, weak, difficulty standing
Taken to Collie Veterinary Hospital - initial examination diagnosis severe bacterial infection
Temperature (Rectal) - 36C - hypothermic - Placed in humidicrib
250mls of 5% Glucose - IV plus multivitamins
0.5ml + further 0.25ml Dexamethazone - IM
0.5ml Baytril (50mg/ml Enrofloxacin) - IM
Returned to Roo Gully:
2nd IV drip - 1 litre Hartmanns Solution + 50mls 50% Glucose to run over 2 days
Baytril (50mg/ml Enrofloxacin) to continue - 0.5ml IM for further 3 days

Remained lethargic, but showed an interest in eating native grasses and plants

Urine sample:
PH - 6
Leucocytes - Moderate
Protein - 1.0
No blood

4th August 2004
Lethargic at times - but with episodes of alertness during which time she would stand and eat
08.15: Drank 15mls - Formula One + half teaspoon Glucose powder
09.15: Stood and ate kangaroo nuts, grevillea, lucerne
Urine sample:
Glucose - trace
Protein - 1.0
Leucocytes - Moderate
09.30: 0.5ml Baytril (50mg/ml Enrofloxacin) - IM
12.00: Drank 14mls Wombaroo 0.7 with added Impact + Glucose powder
Urine sample:
PH - 6.0
Protein - 0.3
Leucocytes - Moderate to Small

During the afternoon ate very well - native grasses and plants - grevillea, lucerne, wattle
14.15: Urine sample:
pH 6.5
Protein - 0.3
Leucocytes - Moderate to Small

18.00: Appeared to be suffering from severe gut pain, 'mini' convulsions
0.3ml Pamlin (Diazepam 5mg/ml) - IM
0.3ml Rimadyl (Carprofen 50mg/ml) - IM
18.15: Was experiencing good pain relief and steady sedation - comfortable
Good heart rate and respiration - soft bowel sounds
21.15: Standing up and eating well
21.30: Urine sample:
Glucose - 15
PH 6.5
Protein - 0.3
Leucocytes - Moderate to Small

5th August 2004
3.00: Awake, standing and eating well - passing urine and good faeces
6.45: Grinding teeth, looked uncomfortable, progressed to convulsions
07.00: 0.3ml - Pamlin (Diazepam 5mg/ml) - IM
08.30: Convulsing
0.3ml Pamlin (Diazepam 5mg/ml) - IM
0.3ml Rimadyl (Carprofen 50mg/ml - IM
09.15: Still convulsing - 1ml Pamlin (Diazepam 5mg/ml) - IM
10.00: Missy died

Blood samples taken from heart soon after death

Please note:
Other Western Brush wallaby, 2 years old, at Roo Gully lives in the same area as Missy did,
and so far appears to be in good health.

2 other Western Brush wallabies have been cared for at Roo Gully. Both females.
The first one died in similar circumstances to Missy. She was apparently in previous good health, apart from suffering head injuries from road accident, and suddenly began convulsing and died within one hour.
The other wallaby reached maturity, was in excellent health and was killed by a fox.

Diet and Weight Data:

19th March 2004
Weight - 1.275 Kilograms
Fed Wombaroo 0.7 - 20mls x 5 per day

20th March 2004
Weight - 1.308 Kilograms - 33 gram gain - probably due to fluid replacement

21st March 2004
Weight - 1.345 Kilograms - 16 gram gain

25th March 2004
Weight - 1.377 Kilograms - 69 gram gain in 5 days (14 grams per day)

3rd April 2004
Weight - 1.584 Kilograms - 207 gram gain in 9 days (23 grams per day)
Showing an interest and eating some solids and natural food
Kangaroo nuts, oats, grevillea, grass and also eats dirt

8th April 2004
Weight - 1.751 Kilograms - 167 gram gain in 5 days (approx. 33.5 grams per day)

15th April 2004
Weight - 1.842 Kilograms - 91 gram gain in 7 days (13 grams per day)
Reduced weight gain thought because she was now more active. Spending less time in her pouch and being introduced to being outside with other wallaby, Winnie
Missy also not sleeping for long periods at night

24th April 2004
Weight - 2.080 Kilograms - 248 gram gain in 9 days (23 grams per day)
Now spending more time outside with Winnie, grazing and browsing, which could account for better weight gain.

1st May 2004
Weight - 2.235 Kilograms - 155 gram gain in 7 days (22 grams per day)
Now down to 2 feeds of Wombaroo 0.7 per day and outside at night

10th May 2004
Weight - 2.483 Kilograms - 148 gram gain in 10 days (18 grams per day)
Refusing evening bottle, so now only on one bottle a day of Wombaroo 0.7

17th May 2004
Weight - 2.653 Kilograms - 170 gram gain in 7 days (24 grams per day)
Noticed that her urine was slightly darker and redder in colour.
Milk formula changed to Formula One - the reason being we have noticed before that joeys being fed Wombaroo 0.7 that are approaching weaning are more prone to urinary infections. We suspect the milk might be too strong for them at this stage
Formula One offered at 40mls x 2 per day.
Now outside and weaned slowly to no bottles

2nd August 2004
Weight - 2.835 Kilograms - lethargic - first sign of illness - and had lost weight in previous 36 hours

Consulting Veterinarian Dr Jules Vandenbergh's Report

The wallaby was presented at Collie Vet Hospital on 3/8/2004.
Very weak, laterally recumbent, pale mm., shallow breathing, cold Temp. 35.8C.
Treatment plan was symptomatic:
250ml 5% glucose IV (prewarmed/over 2 hours) 0.5ml Multivitamins IV
0.25ml 2omg/ml Dexamethosone IV 0.50ml Dexamethosane IM
0.50ml Baytril IM (50mg/ml).
Placed in humidicrib at 28oC. Marked improvement.
Urinalysis: Leukocytes 75/ul; protein 100mg/dl - combin strips.
1l Hartmans IV slow.
Temp 36.5C. All vital signs improved, more alert. Sent home on fluids to be cared for at Roo Gully.
After initial improvement the Wallaby died on 5/8/04. Vet not present at time of death. No diagnosis was made. We have had several wallabies and joeys of this age group die under similar circumstances without definitive diagnosis. We have been able to make one diagnosis of calcinosis circumscripta in our older wallaby which had had a similar history when younger but survived.


Pathologist - Dr. Phillip Nichols

Status: Post natural death.
Post mortem interval:
Post mortem decomposition: minimal
Identifying features:

o External examination
No visible lesions
o Lymphoreticular system
No visible lesions
o Skin and subcutis
No visible lesions
o Urogenital system
No visible lesions
o Body cavities
No visible lesions
o Endocrine system
No visible lesions
o Respiratory system
No visible lesions
o Musculoskeletal system
No visible lesions
o Cardiovascular system
No visible lesions
o Nervous system
No visible lesions
o Alimentary system
No visible lesions


Visible lesions:
Significant External Findings
Severely emaciated carcase.

Significant Internal Findings
Saccular stomach and intestines full of ingesta.
Colon contained faecal pellets.

Gross Summary:
No visible lesions were seen on gross examination, although the poor body condition suggests a chronic condition was present also.

Ancillary Tests:
Microbiology - CP3145 / 04.
Aerobic culture from the lung yielded a moderate growth of a weakly alpha-haemolytic Streptococcus species.
Aerobic culture from the liver yielded a scanty mixed growth including a weakly alpha-haemolytic Streptococcus species.
Selective culture for salmonella from the caecum contents proved negative.

Antibiotic sensitivity
The Streptococcus isolated above was sensitive to penicillin, cephalexin, amoxy/clav, erythromycin, Sulph/trim and tetracycline, with intermediate sensitivity to lincomycin.

Parasitology - CP3145 / 04
No parasitic organisms detected on Malachite Green Stain, Zinc flotation or Faecalizer.

HAEMATOLOGY COMMENTS: leukopenia, neutropenia, mild anaemia

Haematocrit (Advia result)
X 109/L
T.S.Protein g/L
Nuc.RBC / 100 WBC Con. WBC
  X 109/L
Fbg (heat ppt) g/L
Reticulocytes % Segmented
X 109/L
Corrected Retics % Bands
X 109/L
Abs. Retics X 109/L Lymphocyte
X 109/L
X 109/L
Platelets Poikilocytosis
Large platelets
:-type:   Metamyel  
Platelet clumps
Howell-Jolly bodies   Myelocytes  
Platelet numbers
Rouleaux formation   Lysed cells  
Platelet count (on citrate sample) Red cell agglutination.   Toxic neuts:
  corrected for citrate dilution Film exam by:    
Advia result      


EDTA: cbc
Serum: panel
Faeces: parasites
Liver, lung: culture
Caecum: salmonella

Clin Path No:  
Sample type: serum
0 Icteric
Reference Interval
Units From To
CK 70555 U/L  
ALP 2353 U/L  
ALT 235 U/L  
AST 830 U/L  
Phosphate 4.0 mmol/L  
Urea 13.4 mmol/L  
Creatinine 75 mmol/L  
Calcium 2.44 mmol/L  
Cholesterol 1.7 mmol/L  
Glucose 0.22 mmol/L  
T Bilirubin   mmol/L  
Protein 44 mmol/L  
Albumin 28.8 g/L  

CommentsNo bilirubin result as sample was haemolysed
Was the sample taken post mortem?

Histopathological findings:
H04-0510A. Lung x 2, liver. Pleura normal. Alveolar capillaries show diffuse moderate acute congestion. Alveolar airspaces appear clear, bronchioles and pulmonary vessels appear normal. Lungs show mild to moderate sinusoidal congestion and some post-mortem dissociation of hepatocytes, capsule normal and portal triads normal.
H04-0510B. Heart x 2, kidney, spleen. Endocardium, epicardium, myocardium and Purkinje fibres normal. Spleen appears mildly contracted and with prominent periarteriolar lymphoid sheaths (as expected in a young animal). Kidney has multifocal basophilic and irregularly shaped lameliar concretions in tubules of the cortex and interstitium (calcification), and occasionally in vessel walls. Tubules and glomeruli otherwise normal.
H04-0510C. Adrenal, lymph node, intestine x5. Sections of gastrointestinal tract show mucosal autolysis, otherwise normal. Adrenal, lymph node and pancreas appear normal.
H04-0510D. Central nervous system x3. Medulla oblongata, pons and cerebellum, of questionable significance, but no other changes are seen.
H04-0510E. Cerebrum. A section of cerebrum appears normal.
H04-0510F. Tongue x2. Two sections of tongue appear normal.


Final diagnosis:

Final Comment:
The investigations detailed above failed to confirm a significant underlying disease. Despite the overall thin condition, there was no evidence of chronic parasitism, or chronic bacterial or viral infections. Specifically, there was no histological evidence of macropod herpes virus, which causes a multifocal necrotising hepatitis and a pneumonia. A streptococcus was isolated from both liver and lung (sensitivity detailed above). Whilst this could reflect an acute systemic bacterial infection, no histological evidence of acute or chronic inflammations was seen, although this may of course reflect an even distribution of lesions within the tissues. There was some multifocal calcification in the kidney, but this is not considered significant in relation to the death. The serum biochemistry shows very high CK levels and other anomalies. Given the species and the high CK levels (>70,000), a capture-type myopathy must be considered as a possibility here. Although some capture myopathies are associated with gross lesions of heart and skeletal muscle, some capture myopathy shock syndromes show very little grossly except perhaps pulmonary congestion and oedema and a few other rather non-specific findings. Additionally, the affected muscle groups can be very focal, and so unless every muscle group is sampled, the findings can be minimal. Even histologically, lesions can prove few and far between. Although conclusive proof is hard to demonstrate, in this case the serum biochemistry suggests that a peracute myopathy shock syndrome is a possibility. This should be interpreted alongside a consideration of any recent handling, restraint, or possible chasing be children or dogs.

Roo Gully Final Comments:
Obviously we are concerned that Missy might have suffered from a stress or capture myopathy, but we are also willing to consider it as a cause of death. However because we are a working wildlife sanctuary and not a commercial wildlife park we do not allow unsupervised visits. Besides there were no visitors to Roo Gully in the week before Missy became sick and died, and there are no children living here.
We appreciate that not knowing the set up at Roo Gully he was only giving examples, and yes we have questioned the possibility of Missy being chased by dogs.
But again, although we apologise for the quality of this picture,
it was taken only a couple of weeks before she became sick.
This was Missy lying by the log fire inside the house, with her mate Chloe. She is the only dog at Roo Gully, and has been raised with wildlife, sharing her life with an assortment of macropods.
You might also notice that it was Missy who had the prime position!
Missy and Chloe

However, as carers we must all ask ourselves what constitutes stress to a wild animal?

We do accept that there is a possibility that Missy could have died of capture myopathy.
Having gone through everything with our vets, she could have felt stressed during the period
she was sick. But to try and save her she had to be driven to the veterinary hospital and have
a drip inserted, and on her return she had to be brought inside the house to be cared for.

Missy on couch
But Missy always loved being inside the house.
Choosing for herself when she came in to join us, which was most evenings, and always settling down on the her favourite couch to watch TV with us.
And having been with us since March she was used to being handled,
and loved her cuddles.
Missy cuddled
But who really knows how a wild animal feels when it is sick?
Missy sick on  drip

In times like this its natural instincts may be strong enough
to override the fact that it has always previously felt comfortable
in its human environment, and seen its carer as a substitute mother,
so maybe its body chemicals could react accordingly.

Gypsy was our first Western Brush wallaby, and although
a slow developer appeared to be healthy, until a few hours before she died.
She had been following me outside, then hopped back inside her pouch. An hour later we found her in the bedroom hissing and acting aggressively, then she began convulsing and stopped breathing.

Gypsy was given mouth to mouth resuscitation and injected with drugs to help stop the convulsions,
but she never regained consciousness. 2 hours later she died. The cause of her death remains a mystery.

To us there are too many similarities between the deaths of Missy and Gypsy. We feel Missy only lived longer because she received emergency veterinary care, but her final demise was exactly the same.

We have cared for 4 Western Brush wallabies at Roo Gully.
All were females. All were orphaned in road accidents.
2 died suddenly after appearing to be in good health, and 2 reached maturity.
2 came from the Collie area to our west, the other 2 from the Perup Ecology Reserve to our east.
The 2 from Collie arrived with no ticks on their bodies.
The 2 from Perup had heaps of ticks.
The 2 from Collie were Gypsy and Missy.

These are things I think about, but of course my thoughts have no scientific bearing.
So apart from being aware that capture myopathy can strike even the seemingly relaxed and happiest of macropods, our next move is to look at the Vit D and calcium in their diet, and to try and find out if they have a metabolic problem.

Our sincerest thanks go to Dr. Phillip Nicholls and Murdoch University.
And our heartfelt thanks go to Dr. Jules Vandenbergh and his staff at Collie Veterinary Hospital.

And to all those who met and helped care for Missy, we thank you for loving her.

If you would like to share this special wallaby's life
please go to Missy's Tale

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