The recent classification as threatened status of the northern koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) by the Australian Government highlights the importance of the conservation and health management of this iconic Australian marsupial. This case series describes gastrointestinal torsion and intussusception in six northern koalas (three males, three females, 2–11 yr old) at the San Diego Zoo from 1976 to 2012. Two koalas died shortly after presentation. Diagnoses of ileocecal intussusception, resulting from enteritis in one case and cecal torsion in the other, were made at postmortem examination. One koala died 4 days after an exploratory laparotomy, with negative findings, and an acute double colonic intussusception was diagnosed at postmortem examination. Two small intestinal mesenteric torsion and one proximal colon mesenteric torsion cases were successfully corrected surgically. In the case of colonic mesenteric torsion, the koala had recurrent clinical signs 2 wk later, and a second surgery requiring resection and anastomosis of ischemic jejunum was performed, with the koala dying shortly afterward. One koala with small intestinal torsion had a recurrence of torsion 22 mo later and subsequently died. The koala with the second case of small intestinal torsion remains alive 14 mo postsurgical correction. All six koalas presented with signs of colic that included anorexia, lethargy, depression, acute abdominal distension, abdominal stretching, decreased fecal output, open-mouth gasping, or a combination of symptoms. Abdominal radiographs may show stacked gastrointestinal linear gas patterns and contrast stasis. Prevalence of torsion and intussusception is low at this institution (2%), although recurrence in individuals is common (50%) and overall survival is poor (83%), which emphasizes the importance of timely recognition, surgical correction, and postoperative management. While inciting etiologies were unable to be determined in these cases, monitoring generalized gastrointestinal health and differing Eucalyptus sp. effects on individual koala's gastrointestinal function, parasite control, and stress minimization through standardized husbandry practices are likely important.
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