Sunday, 29 April 2007

Introducing the new and improved Anna Bay Miles

With the new leaf in place, I may as well not even exist; I'm koala non grata. So perhaps what Cheyne's been saying all along really is true: Linksy doesn't actually love me for myself, but only for my eucalyptus! How crushing to be so used and brutally tossed aside by one so adorable. Linksy, you heart-breaker, love-taker.
I see from the noticeboard that Walcha Barbie has been moved from Barb's place to ICU. I go in to check on how she's settled in. There's a pot of leaf on the floor as well as in the usual bracket up higher. Despite her bandaged arm, she's just climbed up onto her gunyah from the ground. She looks just a like a bandaged bear; in fact, she could be a model for the koala on the official Koala Hospital T-shirt.

Across the hallway, I see that Morrish Steven has given his gunyah the disgruntled rockstar treatment again. He's managed to tear both towels off the middle of his gunyah, exposing the bare -- if a little gnawed -- wood. Innes Tony's empty unit suggests he's been shipped out or worse, but there's no word about that in the daybook. It turns how he's graduated to yard 10. Yay! Another koala on the road to recovery. I wonder how he's been enjoying the rain?

The boys (Jarrod & Paul) have put in a request to do yard 10, so I'm assigned the few front yards -- 3, 4 & 5. Kempsey is sleeping when I enter with her food. I remove the leaf pot nearest to her to give the tourists at the fence a gander while I feed her. She's getting better at it (or I am), less dribbles out although she's still got it all over her chin by the time she's done.

Links VTR
Links VTR
From koalawrangler's gallery.

While I'm feeding, I hear a scampering noise behind me. It's Linksy! He's perched on the tree in his yard, looking longingly towards Kempsey and me (and, more importantly, the food pot). I'm conscious of his interest the whole time I'm syphoning formula into Kempsey's mouth. Every time I turn to look behind me, there's Linksy, salivating, with an "I'll have what she's having" expression on his little face. Eventually he loses interest and ascends the tree to a higher branch; or he's being nonchalant -- we'll see what he's like as soon as fresh leaf is on offer.

Links VTR
Links VTR
From koalawrangler's gallery.

The leaf is ready to go early this morning so the yards get serviced according to the book; that is, I can finish feeding, raking, feeding, and leafing Kempsey's yard completely before proceeding to the next. While I'm at the leaf rack preparing today's branches, Links is overseeing my progress from his tree lookout. He seems almost ecstatic to see that it's finally his turn. He hightails it down the tree, peering towards me with interest. It's a race to get the leaf in the pot fast enough before Linksy is upon me, chomping apparatus at the ready.

With the new leaf in place, I may as well not even exist; I'm koala non grata. So perhaps what Cheyne's been saying all along really is true: Linksy doesn't actually love me for myself, but only for my eucalyptus! How crushing to be so used and brutally tossed aside by one so adorable. Linksy, you heart-breaker, love-taker. No longer of any use to him, he parks his tush on the gunyah and settles in for a good graze. I stare dejectedly at him for a few minutes, before shuffling away to the compost to empty Little Lord Linksleroy's poo bucket. At least I still have that honour. Sniff.

At the poo bin, I meet Chris who's involved in bush regeneration to ensure there will be plenty of koala food for years to come. He explains that, with a bit of chemical help, the koala poo breaks down nicely into soil and is returned to the earth to help grow more eucalypts. What a great little ecosystem.

Next is the latest hospital success story, Anna Bay Miles. I'd noticed that Emma had been taking some great snaps of Anna Bay Miles, since he'd been moved outside. You'd never know to look at his left eye that he'd every had conjunctivitis. There's also a healthy grey colour seeping back into his fur. It was nice to spend some time with him today.

Unlike Lord Linksy, Miles slept through the leaf preparations for the other two yards. His food pot was in the treatment room as it has some medicine added by the hospital supervisor. Cheyne was pleased to report that his formula dose has been reduced by half and he no longer requires the nutritional gel supplement he's been on since arrival. He's starting to flesh out nicely, better filling the frame of the adult male that he is.

I have to coax Miles awake, but when he comes to, he's very interested in the food. I'm astonished by the creamy grey colour of his facial fur and the glossy blackness of his nose. Like most koalas, he has a fuzzy pink chin and a pink tongue that darts in and out of his mouth while he feeds. He is an insistent feeder now, gripping the wide part of the syringe in his teeth (which is a no-no). I do my best to only dip the slim end of the syringe in his mouth, but it's like he wants to chew the whole thing up. He also dribbles some of back up, which I try to catch in the pot. Some of it lands on my hand; it's warm from his mouth. Didn't Miles attend Cheyne's koala-feeding class? hey, wait a minute, he was actually the "demonstration koala" who fed so compliantly! What's happened!?) Despite flouting all the feeding rules, it's great to see him being so pushy now, after his former passivity.

As soon as the food's finished, Miles returns to his sleeping cocoon-shape. Unfortunately, I still need to disrupt him a little in order to replenish his leaf pots. He's wedged himself between a pot and a gunyah beam; I have to dislodge the pot from behind his back, but he manages to remain in his curled up position. Replacing the pot is another story; this elicits a little grunt as he shuffles off down the other end of the gunyah for some peace and quiet.

He goes to climb through the other leaf pot, now filled with towering fresh leaf. In doing so, he puts his wait on a branch which promptly snaps. Miles loses his balance and dangles precariously, hanging onto the gunyah with his curved claws. His round bottom is swinging before me as he endeavours to clamber back on the gunyah. I cup my hands around it and give him a little supportive heave-ho until he finds purchase back on the gunyah. Funny little acrobat.

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