Friday, 16 February 2007

Settlement Point Steffi

The joeys are both awake and staring down at me from their lofty pedestals like fluffy-earred gargoyles. I love their icy superiority! They look down on us like so many ants scurrying about doing their bidding.

Siren Gem & Lady Nelson Woody
From koalawrangler's gallery.
Like the koala-mad person that I've become, I'm doing a double-shift today. I'm usually scheduled to do Friday mornings, but Lorna called and asked if I'd do the arvo as well. I simply can't refuse the little furry-faced ones...oh, and the koalas (yuk, yuk).

Barb's mixing up formula as I arrive. I ask her about the call-out from Sunday arvo: a koala had been chased up a palm tree by a dog. When Barb went out to check, there were too many smaller trees in the way; she couldn't get close enough to see if the koala was in need of help. Being a palm tree, the koala wouldn't be sticking around.

Barb assigns me Kempsey Carolina and yard 6, where the youngest remaining joeys (Siren Gem and Lady Nelson Woody) reside. Normally, Kempsey is 'reserved' for Andrew, but he's not coming in today.

With formula pot in one hand, I climb up on a stool to start feeding Kempsey, but then reel back suddenly. On the leaf right in front of her face (and mine) is a spider the size of a volkswagon. It's lucky Kempsey is blind as I proceed, for the next few minutes, to flail a rake madly right in front of her face, trying to flick the spider off the leaf. It drops to the ground and curls up in a sort of commando somersault fashion. (The spider not the koala.) I squash it with the heel of my blunnie.

Rain is threatening. There are a few drops and finally the heavens open up and give the ground a good drenching. I suggest to Anne that we get the towels off the line. She gives a look over her shoulder and predicts that it'll soon be fine, but I, the city-girl, start tearing the damp towels off in a frenzy of pegs and face-washers. I put a pile in the dryer, but, sure enough, the shower passes and the sun comes out. I hang the towels back on the line, wasting a good 15 minutes with the whole process.

The leaf isn't ready yet so I go to prepare the joey yard. The joeys are both awake and staring down at me from their lofty pedestals like fluffy-earred gargoyles. I love their icy superiority! They look down on us like so many ants scurrying about doing their bidding.

Kempsey is usually in the middle of her gunyah where there is leaf cover, or nestled in one of the forks at the end closest to the ICU. For some reason she's taken herself down the opposite end where there's no leaf and has perched on edge, facing out as though preparing to launch herself off the gunyah. I immediately think of Kate Winslet in Titanic.

Kempsey Carolina
Kempsey Carolina
From koalawrangler's gallery.

There's a few people in today so not much for me to do in the ICU. Plus there are two or three vacancies in here, what with several of the boys (Macquarie Peter, Tozer Tom and Warrego Martin) having been transferred to yard 10. So all I do is help Geoff out with Bellevue Bill's leaf. (His name always reminds me of that serial killer in Silence of the Lambs. What was it? That's right, Buffalo Bill.)

Barb arrives back with her new little joey. Siren Gem has just been discharged from her place and into yard 6 with Lady Nelson Woody. But the same day, she and Judy were called out to a holiday village near Settlement Point to pick up another one. The holiday-makers had been enjoying frequent sightings of what they thought was a small koala in the trees surrounding the village. Then, on Tuesday, the koala was seen lying flat on her face in the rain at the bottom of a tree. The people who reported it were out-of-towners so didn't realise that a small koala might actually be an abandoned joey which would require aid. Had they known to call when they had first seen her, she might have been saved the ordeal that followed.

Settlement Point Steffi
From koalawrangler's gallery.
When Barb and Jude got there, they were sure she was dead. She was lying flat with her arms splayed out at her sides. She was drenched to the skin after the heavy overnight rains and barely alive. They took her to Judy's, towelled her off and dried her with a hair-dryer. Since Judy already had a joey, Barb took her in at her place. She was named Settlement Point Steffi.

I look forward to Steffi's getting past her present troubles, to be well enough to join the joeys in yard 6 and come to look down on me with the same blend of surliness and complacency.

Over morning tea I flick through the daybook. I see that Elizabeth Noddy has been released. Another little joey was released with Belah Irwin, Oxley Lucky -- one that Judy raised. They don't treat joeys as having a home-range like grown koalas. They usually just release them to a safe area, and typically with another joey in a sort of buddy system.

I see that Tasman Rose was dispatched to the heavenly gumtree. She was the little female koala brought in the same day as Sandfly Jye. She wouldn't take the clear formula but wouldn't resist me either. She just sat there and let me squirt the liquid at her mouth, delicately lapping at it from time to time. I ask one of the vets what happened to her. Apparently, she had a mammarian tumour. Despite her size, she was quite old. I suppose it's good that she lived a long life then, and was saved from a painful death.

Click here to view more of today's koala hospital photos.