Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Wednesday

Cheyne is Chief Koalawrangler and you can tell by her confidence handling the koalas. She deftly plonks Tom on his gunyah; nonplussed, Tom tucks straight into his wet leaf and is immediately in the 'zone'.

Ocean Therese
From koalawrangler's gallery.
I've been asked to fill for in Maggie on the Wednesday afternoon shift for the next two weeks. There are a host of people in the day-room when I enter: Cathy, the teamleader; a lady called Joy; Anne from Fridays who's working in the shop; Danae, the French backpacker; and Geoff, who's doing today's 3pm walk-and-talk.

Without much to do before 3pm, I wander through the yard. Burraneer Henry is, as ever, up his tree; this time his arms are dangling down in a comical gesture. Back inside, Cathy is mixing up formula and starts to tell us some koala tales. For instance, wiley O'Briens Fiona escaped AGAIN this morning. She has been moved to yard 9 with the permanent girls, but was found up a tree outside her yard in the main grounds. At least she doesn't go far. Fortunately, they've identified how it is she escaped and so have foiled her plans for the future. There have been other movements too. Cathie Sampson has been moved to Fiona's old spot in yard 3 and Jupiter Cheryl has taken his unit in ICU.

Burraneer Henry
Burraneer Henry
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Three koalas need to be fed in the front yards: Innes Wonga, Kempsey Carolina and Siren Gem, the joey. Gem is snuggled up a tree so I start feeding Kempsey. She wakes up as I pull the stool over and starts to move towards me. A crowd gathers at the fence just as a realise that the syringe is a bit dodgy; I can't exactly vacate my post and seek out another. It's as though the plunger is too small for the cylinder -- it just slips through with no pressure. Kempsey is enough of a dribbler without the syringe dribbling to begin with.

Joy is in yard 9 feeding O'Briens Fiona. It's so strange to see her in the wide expanses of yard 9, and with the old girls. She's seated at the end of gunyah beam, pitching towards Joy. In between drinks, she pokes her tongue in and out, like she's licking the air. Bonny Fire is shambling along a nearby beam; she was up a tree earlier so they haven't mixed formula for her yet. Cathy is watering the kids in yard 9A.

Wiruna Lucky is lounging nakedly on a nearby beam. Joy has moved aside the leaf pots so that the tourists can see; Lucky is completely exposed, but sleepily stretched out on the beam. I start to feed her and she drinks it in without moving. "Don't get up now", I mumble.

Joy is happy to feed Birthday Girl and water in yard 9 so I check on where Danae is at outside. She's watered Wonga and Sampson; I water Henry and Westi. Gem is still up his tree although he stirs; not enough to come down to feed though.

I head round to yard 10 where Danae is trying to work out which is Tractive Golfer and which is Ocean Therese. Surprisingly, both are down on their gunyahs. I suggest that Danae feeds Tom since there's a crowd around the front row. I interrupt Ocean Therese who is eating her leaf. She is happy to take the formula. I'm having no luck with syringes today. The black rubber bit comes off the plunger and embeds inself into the syringe. Danae gives up on feeding Tom who has lost interest in formula and returned to his leaf. Just then Cathy comes into the yard with Warrego Martin in a basket. I open up his yard and she lets him out. He leaps onto the beam and straight up to the highest point of his gunyah. Cathy pops Tom in the basket and takes him off to ICU.

Danae starts feeding Tractive Golfer while I water Oxley Jo then Links Lorna. Bizarrely Lorna is sitting out in the middle of her gunyah and seeminly unbothered by my presence. It's so not like her not to be hiding and eeping weakly into her leaf. Cheyne returns with Tozer Tom swinging between her arms. Cheyne is Chief Koalawrangler and you can tell by her confidence handling the koalas. She deftly plonks Tom on his gunyah; nonplussed, Tom tucks straight into his wet leaf and is immediately in the 'zone'.

Links Lorna
Links Lorna
From koalawrangler's gallery.
Tozer Tom
Tozer Tom
From koalawrangler's gallery.

I return to the day-room for another syringe to finish feeding Ocean Therese. I look for Cathy and find her in the treatment room with Jo who is taking a photo of a large jar of brownish liquid. Jo gives me a new syringe and chucks the old one in the bin. Back with Therese, she's got a mouthful of leaf, but pauses to finish off the formula.

Danae waters the aviaries while I wash the formula pots. Jo is in the day-room having a late lunch so I take the opportunity to find out about a few of the koalas' conditions. Golf Starr, a koala who was found lethargic and low in a tree, has a poor prognosis as a result of Chlamydia complications. She has paraovarian cysts, thickened bladder and hydro-ureter kidney (ie the ureter has dilated into the kidney). They are waiting on blood results.

We also talk about Oxley Westi who has the exopthalmous eyes in yard 1. Apparently, they don't know what causes it. I comment that they don't seem to have improved, but Jo says that sometimes she pulls them in and sometimes she doesn't. It's an ability some animals have. We also talk about little Ocean Casurina, who I remember feeding some weeks back. Apparently she had a pinky when she was release, so perhaps she's a mother?

There's another admission, Anna Bay Miles, who's been brought in under the auspices of a wildlife trust. I also read in the day-book that there's also a koala called Crestwood Dampier, who I can't see on any of the whiteboards. It turns out she's in home-care with Barb. On a sad note, I see that Treetop Boxer was brought in a few days ago. He was found on the ground with a distended stomach. He was discovered to have cancer and was euthanased! I remember so well my second day when Geoff transferred Boxer to yard 10A before he was released only a few weeks back. At least his pain was put to an end.

Before I go, Cathy shows me and Danae how to prepare a rescue basket. It contains a pillow sealed in a garbage bag, in case they pee. You cover that in two towels and then fold another two towels length-ways so that it lines the edge of the basket cocoon-style. Finally, you insert a rolled-up towel in the centre that mimicks a "tree" for them to hold on to. Aw.

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