Thursday, 19 April 2007

Hospital for...possums?

I wasn't able to fend off the non-koala part of my life the last two Thursdays and so missed my koala shift on both those days. (I told Amanda in advance, of course.) So today I'm back giving the understudy teamleader thing a go.

Anna Bay Miles is now in an outside yard looking positively glowing in the morning sun. He is a changed koala. I remember having his wet bottom resting against my smock while Cheyne fed him on the treatment bench. There was quite a stink coming from his wet bottom. His fur was discoloured which can occur when a koala is very unwell. I remember the strange blonde colour of Dunbogan Val's fur, a little koala I encountered when I first started working at the hospital.

As Amanda and I walk about with our leaf chart, I realise that Linksy has moved from yard 9a to his own digs in yard 4, so there'll be no more adorable scenes of joey love between him and Kimmy for us to fawn over.

Jackie greets me with the rhetorical "another beautiful day in heaven" -- I have to agree with her.

I'm in yard 10 with Vanessa. Golfer is down on his gunyah for a change so I start to feed him, while Vanessa feeds Sandfly Jye. As Golfer feeds, I notice an indentation in his fur. It's a huge tick pulsing near the skin. It's on his arm, so I don't want to risk digging for it. Andrea's doing her rounds in the yard. I ask her to pull it off while I distract him with formula. Even with the distraction, he takes a swipe at a Andrea. She's too quick for him though and comes away wielding the full tick in her fingers.

Ocean Therese is in fine form. She reaches out for me, gently swiping for attention. Beatrice is also helping in the yard. She tells me that Jye is doing something strange. He's sitting in the corner of his yard again, looking like a yogi in the lotus position.

Oxley Jo is curled up like a baby bunting (with the fur wrap built in). She regards me sleepily.

Oxley Jo
Oxley Jo
From koalawrangler's gallery.

I mention Jye's behaviour to Cheyne and Andrea in the treatment room. Cheyne says it's important to bring it to their attention if we think the koalas are doing something strange. Andrea thinks it's because Jye's bored; he's on the last phase of his treatment and is just marking time before release back into the wild.

We have an early tea break in the dayroom. I ask Andrea about a few of the other patients. I'm concerned about the beautiful Bellevue Bill and his kidney damage. Innes Tony has kidney damage too, but his prognosis doesn't seem to be as poor as Bill's. Fortunately it's not curtains yet for Bill though; he may yet turn a corner.

I ask the other vollies if anyone has seen Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The scene where Borat tries to capture Pamela Anderson in his wedding sack reminded in a comically exaggerated way of koala-bagging (although when we do it, it's a lot less rough!).

Watch Borat bag Pamela!
Provided by Flixster

Actually, when we bag koalas in the hospital, it's usually for their comfort. Sometimes it's easier to feed a newcomer koala by securing the mouth of the bag around their face, or it the bag can be used to shield the koala from something unpleasant like an injection.

Reading the daybook, I see that Jupiter Cheryl and Kennedy Easy have both been released!

Just as I walk out the door towards my car, I hear a voice demanding if I work at the hospital. I turn to see a chap walking towards me with some urgency, carrying a plastic garbage bag before him. He tells me, "I've got a sick animal, but I'm not sure what it is". I usher him quickly into the hospital, calling Cheyne and Andrea to assist. It turns out to be a ringtail possum wrapped in a towel. Cheyne gently examines it while Amanda quickly mixes up some rehydrating liquid to feed the little fellow. As Cheyne checks it over, the long tail curls around the little body. Cheyne gently twirls it away, rewraps it in the towel and places it in carboard box. As with koalas, it's better to hide a hurt animal from the light.

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