Tuesday, 20 February 2007

When nice joeys turn naughty

Judy deftly plucks him from the gunyah, but Woody puts up a struggle, squeaking and nibbling on her arm. Vina grabs his feet and the two of them make for the staff-room with the naughty joey dangling between them.

Lady Nelson Woody
From koalawrangler's gallery.
I'm doing Tuesday arvo -- another day I've not done before. Vina is team leader and is lovely and welcoming. In fact, she's quite hands-off, which is great now that I know the ropes here better.

I suggest that I go off to yard 10 to water some leaf. I fill Tractive Golfer's and Ocean Therese's leaf pots and wet their leaf. Ocean Therese is high in her tree which is good news: they're trying to get her muscles used to climbing again. I decide not to disturb the sleeping koalas on the front row by watering their leaf yet; it's better to wait until the crowd comes by so that they can see the koalas waking up.

I see that there's a koala in yard 2, the corner yard near the entrance. Back in the staff-room, I'm disappointed to see on the board that it's O'Briens Fiona. She was the feisty one in ICU who was always trying to escape. Fiona was released a short time ago but is back in as she's sadly underweight. She was found low in a tree: that may mean that she's not getting around to the good leaf. They're fattening her up again with formula. It worries me that koalas put back in the wild are struggling to do what comes naturally.

Kempsey Carolina

Vina suggests I feed Kempsey Carolina. She's in a great position near the front of the gunyah facing the crowd. I wait till the guide leads them around to us before I start feeding. Kempsey is leaning out of the gunyah towards me, looking beseechingly for food. She's slopping her feed everywhere as usual so I wipe her fuzzy lip with a washer. Then it's a dash to the kitchen to grab the feeds for yard 9. Wiruna Lucky is in a prime position for the tourists to see her feed.

The group moves on and I start on Bonny Fire who's reaching out her paws to get formula. I notice that Barb is over in the joey yard. She comes in to yard 9 and tells me some very sad news: little Settlement Point Steffi has had to be euthanased. I had a dreadful feeling that might happen, but was holding out hope that it wouldn't. Barb says she was too near death to not put her out of her misery. The poor little angel. Barb goes to check on her other troubled little baby, Links VTR, who is hesitant about climbing after the nasty fall from the tree last year that dented his nose.

I feed Birthday Girl and finish watering the yard. Vina is in the joey yard checking Siren Gem, who was sleeping down on the gunyah for a change, for ticks. I can hear her eeping in protest as Vina frisks her. She's found four ticks already, she tells me.

Suddenly we're joined by Lady Nelson Woody (a male, despite the name). He looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, but Woody's the naughty bullyboy joey who was tormenting Siren Gem the other day.

Lady Nelson Woody

No sooner is he down by Gem's side than he starts biting him again. Naughty little monkey! Vina goes to grab Woody to separate them and we call Judy over to witness the naughtiness first hand. Judy decides it's time Woody gets weighed but he takes off up the tree out of reach. Because he can.

Lady Nelson Woody & Siren Gem

Soon enough though, he bounds back down the tree and onto the roof. He's charging about and at one point he looks like he may leap off the edge and onto my head. It's hard to know what he'll do!

It's like he's determined to come down and torment Gem, even if it means being captured for it. Judy deftly plucks him from the gunyah, but Woody puts up a struggle, squeaking and nibbling on her arm. Vina grabs his feet and the two of them make for the staff-room with the naughty joey dangling between them. I ask if they need a bag and whip one off the clothesline as we're passing. They pop him in.

On the scales he's over 4 kilos. He only needs to be 3.5 kilos for release. Judy decides to keep him in an ICU unit overnight for release the next day. I offer to cut up leaf from the leaf shed. Judy says I can use the leaf that was destined for Settlement Point Steffi. How sad!

Outside, I deftly cut up two bunches of leaf and bring them into the unit. Judy deposits Woody into the dark room. He looks quite disoriented. I tell him he's in isolation for being a naughty little koala. An agro-ala.

I learned something new today -- Oxley Westi doesn't have a pinky after all. It's just a fold in her pouch. At least her eyes are improving, even if she's not a mother.

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