Friday, 6 April 2007

FiFi Houdini's final escape

Barb pops her head in the yard and tells me not to start on Links Lorna's yard. Today's the day she's being released. You go, girl!
Links Lorna
Links Lorna
From koalawrangler's gallery.
It's good to be back in the koala saddle again, after missing my usual Thursday shift yesterday. Being Good Friday, we're down a few vollies; plus there's a few rescues and releases to take away the human resources from the usual servicing of the yard. Barb reckons it's shaping up to be one of those fridays. The kind where you plan to finish at 10, and then you're there admitting new koalas until lunchtime.

Judy is telling Mary about the latest on Walcha Barbie. She's developed a problem ingesting her leaf. She's hungry but not able to keep the food down. They're going to start pulverising her leaf so that she can eat. Judy's talking about Barbie like she's right here in the room. It's then I realise that she is -- she's basketed on the dayroom table, quiet as a mouse.

Oxley Jo
Oxley Jo
From koalawrangler's gallery.
I'm in yard 10 today with Ashley, although he's likely to be called away on a rescue. First off, I feed Tractive Golfer, who's on his gunyah and snuggled into yesterday's leaf. Jo starts making her rounds in yard 10, checking on the koalas' progress. I ask her about little Oxley Jo, the princess of yard 10, since it looks to me like her wet bottom has 'dried up' a little. Jo says she's spent a little longer on the trials than usual. She wasn't responding initially, but has just turned a corner, delivering a negative result for Chlamydia on the test they do. Jo attempted to explain the test to me, which would give CSI a run for its money. Something to do with gel and chain reactions. I cross my fingers for her that her treatment continues to be a success; she's such a darling.

Jo also tells me something that hadn't occurred to me: the koala admissions quieten down in the winter months. It's out of mating season so they're not taking the same risks roaming from place to place.


Tractive Golfer
From koalawrangler's gallery.
I start to sort out Tractive Golfer's leaf and then Ocean Therese. Golfer makes it easy for me, climbing up a nearby tree leaving his pots free to change. Therese reaches out to me in case I have formula. She's still slated for relocation to a wildlife sanctuary, but apparently the transfer requires both Department of Agriculture and NSW Parks & Wildlife approval. Suits me fine; I'll be sad to see her go. She's such a gentle girl. I give her head a little stroke before I go. Barb pops her head in the yard and tells me not to start on Links Lorna's yard. Today's the day she's being released. You go, girl!

Speaking of removals, I see that Warrego Martin is gone from his usual yard. I knew he was in the post-treatment monitoring phase, but it's still a surprise to see he's been released. Like I expect a phone call advising he's to be released today: did I want to come in to the hospital and see him off? Perhaps a cake and streamers? :) Warrego Martin was one of the koalas I first encountered in ICU. He's come through his system of treatment and is well enough to re-enter the koala community as a healthy male. You can see his photostream here.

I've taken some of yesterday's leftover leaf from outside the leaf shed to use as shelter for Oxley Jo's and Sandfly Jye's recycle pots. There's some good sweeping nicholii to give them some added shade. Some visitors are snapping away at Oxley Jo, but she turns my way when I enter her yard. The new leaf is here already, even before I've made a good go at the yards in yard 10. I quickly replenish Jo's leaf and in the process knock Sandfly Jye's feed pot off the leaf rack. I make up another pot in the dayroom.

Lookout Harry
Lookout Harry
From koalawrangler's gallery.
Ashley's back from the rescue and goes in to feed Jye. He then makes a good dent in the rest yard 10. Lookout Harry makes off up his tree as Ashley cleans. I notice that Harry still has a small leaf branch attached to his bottom; it looks like he's sprouted roots. Ashley whips through three or four of the yards, stripping out one pot of old leaf in each until he's called away for another rescue. The rescue from this morning was Orr Palmerston, a former patient, who needs to be re-released since he's okay.

Barb comes in with a bag and asks if I want to give bagging a go. It's been a while and I should keep up the practise. It's time to go...Linksy Lorna! Lorna is sitting peaceably on her gunyah; she's become much less of a stress-monkey. I remember when she was first in ICU and she would utter an eep! when anyone came near her. Barb tells me to pop the bag over her head and she starts eep again, but not in alarm; it sounds more like indignation. With Barb's help, she's in the bag and halfway to freedom. Yeah!

Oceanview Terry
Oceanview Terry
From koalawrangler's gallery.
I carry on with the other yards. It's good to see Oceanview Terry out here. He was in the aviaries for quite a while; it's always great to see koalas graduate to that next level of freedom, a step closer to recovery and release. As they all do, he's perched as high as he can get on his gunyah, overseeing the yard. When I replenish his leaf, he doesn't even move position, preferring instead to stretch lazily towards whatever leaf he can get from his forked tower.

Judy comes in to see if I need any help. Following Ashley's system, I've been replacing the leaf but not sweeping the yards, leaving that till last. Judy graciously assents to being the poop-sweeper for Jo, Harry and Jye. She then gives Links Lorna's old unit a good clean, blasting the gunyah clean with water.

There's still a unit to do in ICU. Chris, Tracy and I chip in, then I go and fold some towels in the yard. Back in the dayroom, I flick through the dayroom to see when Warrego Martin was released. There's been a lot of movement with admissions and releases. Cathie Sampson, the older koala I've been tending to quite a bit lately, was put to rest. His prognosis was not positive, so I'm glad he's out of any discomfort now.


O'briens Fiona
From brokenpuzzle's gallery.
I'd seen earlier that O'Briens Fiona was no longer in the aviaries, which made me think that the cheeky FiFi Houdini must have been released. Sadly though, it turns out that she had put to sleep. She was an aged koala and had already demonstrated her difficulty surviving in the wild after release, judging by her weight loss upon her readmission. She had been sitting low in her tree and was underweight.

How I will miss her! She had such a vivid personality and a frisky way about her. She would bound up to us wranglers, eagerly demanding formula and foisting herself upon anyone who was a potential feeder. Yet this endearing facility was actually debilitating to her; her inexplicable hyperactivity was not merely unkoala-like, I'm guessing that it also contributed to her weight loss. Koalas are docile and sleep 20 hours a day for a reason. She was expending more energy than she could take in. I couldn't help but shed a tear when I read the news, but I'm glad that Fiona has made her final escape to that elusive gumtree in the sky where she's relaxed and feasting on leaf and formula!

Hindman Foxie
Hindman Foxie
From koalawrangler's gallery.
There's another new koala from the Newcastle area, Anna Bay Sooty. She has notes on her, warning us handlers to give her a wide berth as she is particularly nervous and wary of human attention. She also has a pinkie in her pouch. A baby on that way. It makes things seem hopeful for the koalas.

Carol's in the treatment room feeding today's newcomer, Hindman Foxie. She was last in the hospital some six or seven years ago. Her left eye is completely clouded over; I'm not sure if this is permanent or curable. She's also got a joey in her pouch! Foxie's taking in the liquid Carol's feeding her. She's now in good hands.

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