After a koala and her joey were hit by a car, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital welcomed them in. While the youngster Phantom was unharmed, Lizzie needed surgery to repair a damaged lung. Rather than separate the two, the hospital let Phantom cuddle mom throughout her surgery and into recovery:

Car strikes are the second leading cause of death for koalas, after habitat fragmentation, with nearly 300 koalas killed every year by cars in South East Queensland. So this kind of injury is common in wildlife hospitals.

According to Koalas In Care, "Most koalas get hit by vehicles at night (between dusk and dawn). Koalas are active at this time visiting their favourite food trees and protecting their territory. During breeding season, August – February, they are also more vulnerable spending time on the ground in search of a mate."

Unfortunately, nearly 85 percent of koalas hit by cars are killed. And that makes the story of Phantom and Lizzie, recovering well in hospital, all the more sweet.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

Baby koala cuddles mother during her life-saving surgery
Baby Phantom gives his mother TLC as the two recover together after being hit by a car.