Sunday, 22 April 2007

Bye Jye

...beware vets harbouring injections. Sounds like something you'd read in an animal fortune cookie: Confucious say, wise koala beware vet with sneaky needle. Caveat Koalor?
I got to the hospital at 8am and was only the third vollie to arrive. I had seen Cheryle walking up Lord Street, so she wasn't far behind. I also assured Pete that Emma wouldn't miss the possibility of a koala photo sesh for the world!

I'm in yard 10 with Jim. He's already up there and has swept Golfer's astroturf and generated his recycle pot from yesterday's leaf. The koala himself is curled up in one of his favourite spots, high in a tree overlooking the yard. He's asleep and looks almost teddy-bearish from our vantage point on the ground.

I start with angelic little Jo who is sleeping under her bower of recycled leaf. First I take the two white pots and reserve the best of these for her recycled shelter. Jo's recycle pot is the the best position to create a flourishing umbrella of cover. When I remove her central recycle pot she still clings nakedly to her central fork, looking up at me with interest as I replenish the pot with newly trimmed and dampened recycled leaf.

Oxley Jo
Oxley Jo
From koalawrangler's gallery.

She's not the jumpy koala she once was. Firstly, she's been here a little while now so she's gotten used to the daily ablutions we perform around her. And, secondly, she's now post-treatment so no need to beware vets harbouring injections. Sounds like something you'd read in an animal fortune cookie: Confucious say, wise koala beware vet sneaky with needle. Caveat Koalor? I'm dying to give her a little head scratch, but decide I really shouldn't. She's destined for freedom so it's better for her if I keep my distance.

Jim's just raked out Lookout Harry's yard and is now in with Oceanview Terry. He's produced a spray of leaf studded with sprigs of flowering swamp mahogany for Terry's recycle pot. Terry returns the favour by plonking his bum down in the centre of it like it's a leafy beanbag.

We pause to reflect on the latest absentee from yard 10: Sandfly Jye was released yesterday (as was Koalasaurus Inches). We'll both miss little piggy-nosed Jye. Jim has a theory about why he used to chase us around so much. Jim reckons Jye must have been used to human society in his home-range. Perhaps he lived near a school or where he was around people. Did Sandfly Jye have a people posse? He certainly seemed keen for companionship the way he would leap off his gunyah and barrel towards anyone who would enter his yard to clean. Jim said he also submitted to a tick check the other day, seeming to enjoy the attention and the head scratch that went with it.

Ellenborough Nancy
Ellenborough Nancy
From koalawrangler's gallery.

I head down towards the far end of yard 10 to start on Ellenborough Nancy. Nancy is a changed woman. Not only is her weepy eye looking 100% better, she somehow looks more relaxed out here in the yards after her stint in the aviaries. She looks like a different koala out here in the daylight: her ears are perky and her chest fur is like a gleaming white vest. She watches me keenly when I enter her yard so I keep my distance. Unlike Jye, she's definitely not interested in striking up a friendship, which is the way koalas should be! As I potter around her yard, Nancy makes her way to the ground. When I look over at her, she is standing upright like a meerkat with her paws folded in front of her. She looks up at the tree as if she's wondering "can I get out that way?". It's covered in a metal casing higher up to prevent climbing.

Nancy sits contemplating her tree until I fill her recycle pot. Because this pot is taped to the branch, I have to schlep the hose down from the other end of yard 10. We can't clean these pots properly; all we can do is squirt them till they overflow to refresh the water in there. With the spritzed recycle leaf, Nancy returns to her gunyah. I recall Andrea's mentioning that Nancy's yard sported a fine specimen of a St Andrew's Cross spider, and there it is suspended against the metal fence.

Yard 10's done until we get the new leaf so I head into ICU. I start on Calwalla Bill's unit, mindful of the warning that he's struck out at a vollie before. He's conveniently down one end so I whip off the towel and replace it. Bill lets me clean his unit without incident and I start on Oxley Nina (the one with the suspected joey in her pouch) across the hallway.

Nina stays out of my way too while I straighten her room (yes, sometimes I feel like I'm a koala chambermaid). All goes well until it's time to mop her floor. At this point, she decides to head down to see what I'm up to. This is less than convenient since I'm standing at the door, mop in hand, waiting to start. She trots over towards me to inspect the bucket. I try to convince her to regain her gunyah, but it take a few minutes of her investigations before I can proceed. Finally, when I think she's going northward, she simply wraps her hands and feet around the lower beam and sits there with her bum poised over the drain. It's the kind of thing I would expect of Ocean Therese.

While I've been dealing with Nina's shenanigans, the leaf has arrived. I head back to yard 10 where Jim's got the leaf replenishment under way. Ocean Therese has been asleep all morning and only comes to when I enter her yard with fresh leaf. She has a sleepy, squint-eyed look about her. She even eeps a little when I shift her old leaf pot, to my chagrin.

In the dayroom, Pete hands me a feedpot. We were waiting all morning for Tractive Golfer to come down to drink his formula, but he had remained in his tree loft. When Pete was up in yard 10, Golfer had made his appearance. Jim has left already so it's down to me. I ask Emma if she'd like to feed him -- of course she would: it's another photo opportunity.

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