Baby koala refuses to leave mom during surgery

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Baby koala Phantom wouldn't leave his mother's side -- even during her emergency surgery for a collapsed lung. (Courtesy: Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital via CNN)

Baby koala Phantom wouldn’t leave his mother’s side — even during her emergency surgery for a collapsed lung. (Courtesy: Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital via CNN)

AUSTRALIA– It’s no surprise a baby wouldn’t want to let go of his mama while she underwent emergency surgery.

It’s probably rare that hospital staff would let the baby cling to her during the procedure.

That’s what staff at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital did when Phantom, a six-month-old koala joey, wouldn’t let go of his mother during her recent operation for a collapsed lung, according to The Courier-Mail.

After being hit by a car on a highway west of Brisbane, Phantom and his mother, Lizzy, were taken to the animal hospital in Beerwah, Queensland. While Phantom wasn’t injured, Lizzy suffered a collapsed lung.

Phantom wouldn’t leave his mother during the operation, wrapping his little arms around her neck.

Photos of the koala clinging to his mom have charmed the Internet, prompting “awws” around the world.

“Lizzy is in recovery,” hospital vet nurse Jamie-Lynn Nevers told The Courier-Mail.”It’s so rewarding to see patients like Lizzy doing well.”

Opened in honor of the late wildlife care pioneer Lyn Irwin, mother of renowned wildlife expert Steve Irwin, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital opened in March 2004. (Steve Irwin died in 2006 after being stabbed by a stingray during a TV shoot.)

The hospital sees about 70 koalas monthly, and treatment costs can be as high as 5,000 Australian dollars (about US $3,900).

The hospital said it receives up to 100 wildlife emergency calls daily and admits up to 30 different species each day. Most are injured in car accidents or in attacks by domesticated animals.