Sunday, 15 April 2007

Easy like Sunday morning

Tightening two strings with both hands around the middle of the gunyah, I suddenly fancy I'm lacing a corset...albeit a skinny terry-toweling corset on a long wooden beam that has a koala attached to it. Hmmm, what would Freud say?

Kennedy Easy
From koalawrangler's gallery.
I had written in the daybook that I wouldn't be in today. Then I wound up back in Port after a briefer-than-expected trip to Sydney, so I arrived at the hospital "unannounced", as it were.

I drop off my newspapers and notice a few new names on the mini whiteboards in ICU. One darling girl is Kennedy Easy who was found in a yard with a dog! She's not snuggled into her leaf as most of the other ICU patients are, but peering out into the corridor, and at me as I walk past. She looks quite peaceful. They've only got her in for observation. Right now though, she's observing me.

Pete says I'm to help Cheryle in yard 9. I've met Cheryle a few times before; I used to wonder if she was somehow 'related' to Jupiter Cheryl (eg, was involved in her rescue), but they spell their names differently :)

Cheryle's just coming out of the babies' yard with a bunch of leaf. The babies (Linksy and Kimmy) are frolicking around on the their gunyah, wide-eyed, and looking for fresh leaf. Cheryle has already done most of the recycle in the main yard. It's just a question of feeding and sweeping now.

Bonny Fire is up her tree. There's a little bit of concern as she hasn't been coming down much lately to be fed. She's one of the older girls, so it's important for her to be fed her supplement. Pete also wants to check on the thing they spied between one of her toes last Sunday. Perhaps it wasn't a tick after all, but a funny sort of skin tag.

Lucky is wandering around the edge of the yard, near the corner she seems to favour: near the graves of Perch Miracle and Cloud, two of the hospital's most cherished permanent-resident koalas. Cheryle grabs Lucky's feedpot and heads her way, calling out to her gently so as not to scare her. I head for Birthday Girl's gunyah and try to locate her in the foliage. She's deeply buried under an arched sweep of leaf, so I crouch beneath it to share the sanctuary of her cubby hole. As she looks up at me, her grey face is speckled golden brown from the sun filtering through the leaves. She takes the syringe gently, with none of the urgency of the younger koalas. She knows her meal's a sure thing.

Cheryle carries on with the recycle while I rake the poop on the astroturf. There are one or two runnier patches, which is unusual for koala poo. Cheryle says that Lucky seems to be suffering from a bit of diarrhoea.

With the main yards raked, I set off to sweep out the babies' yard. All I can see is an impossibly white bottom poking through the leafy gunyah.

Ocean Kim and Links VTR (obscured)

Then she sits up and takes notice -- why, it's Ocean Kim!

Ocean Kim and Links VTR (obscured)

It's hard to clean in a yard with the most gorgeous koala specimens so nearby. They're kids and their hungry and they know we generally come bearing food. They're I wander around the gunyah to see what Linksy's up to. He's making a good meal of yesterday's remaining nicholii.

Links VTR
Links VTR
From koalawrangler's gallery.

I wrench myself free of the joeys' grasp (of cuteness) to replenish the numerous water bowls around the main part of the yard. Lucky Wiruna is still on the ground but is making her way over to the gunyah. Surprisingly, Birthday Girl has switched gunyahs -- from her usual one near the joeys, over to the main gunyah configuration that Lucky and Bonny typically share. When I tell Cheryle about it, she's surprised (and impressed!) that Birthday Girl still has the agility to climb. She's an old koala and suffers from arthritis.


Ellenborough Nancy
From koalawrangler's gallery.
We're now waiting for fresh leaf so I wander over to yard 10 where Jim and Emma are. I'm keen to see how Ellenborough Nancy is settling in at her new digs in Links Lorna's old yard. (I also wonder how little Eepy is doing out in the wild). Ocean Therese is sleeping curled up on her gunyah, Tractive Golfer is chewing at yesterday's leaf. Oxley Jo is snuggled up in her leaf as well. Emma is feeding Sandfly Jye and Jim is cleaning Ocean Roy's pots. I ask how the new third pot is going. We installed these (with sticky tape!) last Sunday. Apparently, some have slipped down a little, but generally they are doing their job of providing a extra shelter on these less shady yards. An additional problem which we didn't anticipate during our feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis (ie two minutes' of conversation last Sunday) is the poop factor. We knew that the fixed pots could not be removed for thorough cleaning; they would have to be squirted clean with a hose. We also didn't count on the koalas using the third pot as an ersatz tree trunk and pooping into them. Jim wants to try to obtain some more metal pot brackets and afix them to the gunyah properly.


Ocean Roy
From koalawrangler's gallery.
I look in on Ellenborough Nancy. I'm glad they gave the room upgrade to Nancy. She's a koala who would really appreciate the shift from the aviaries to here. It's wonderful to see her outside in the sun and out of the shadows. She looks different; her eye, to my untrained one, looks completely cured, compared to the weepy left eye she came in with. I glance over to Ocean Roy. He suddenly demonstrates one of those unexpected leaps that koalas are capable of -- about two metres straight off his gunyah to the ground. It takes Jim and me by surprise. Roy's just doing a perimeter check of his yard. I yoo-hoo him at him and he looks up, bleached white by the sun.

The leaf arrives and we quickly replenish the outside yards before starting inside in ICU. I've got Calwalla Bill, the koala who swiped at Helen the other week. I'm not going to be complacent about doing his unit; I'll keep out of his way and hopefully he'll keep out of mine. He's down the left of his gunyah so I replace the towel at the right, leaving a long string dangling at in the middle in preparation for the next towel. I give him some lovely wet leaf down the right end and he ambles down towards it, unfortunately positioning himself right in the centre of the gunyah.

I manage to secure the new towel on the left side now, but can't finish the job with Bill's butt right above my head (where I need to tie the final knot). I concentrate on the rest of his gunyah -- sweeping up newspaper, mopping the floor (darting looks at him all the while) and relaying the paper. I may as well not exist for all the attention I'm getting from Bill -- he's gobbling up his new leaf. Finally, he shuffles in a bit further and I can tie of the loose strings. Tightening two strings with both hands around the middle of the gunyah, I suddenly fancy I'm lacing a corset...albeit a skinny terry-toweling corset on a long wooden beam that has a koala attached to it. Hmmm, what would Freud say?

Peter and Emma are both working on Oxley Nina (a newcomer)'s gunyah. She was brought in after a motor vehicle accident (her nose and chin look a little grazed). It's suspected that she may be harbouring a joey in her pouch. Like many koalas, she's not interested in moving around her gunyah to allow fresh towelling to be laid down -- not even moving in the direction of new leaf. It becomes a team effort -- just as Emma lures Nina northwards up the fork bisecting her gunyah, I wack the towel down which Peter then adroitly ties on.

In the dayroom having the post-shift cuppa, I check out some of the changes afoot since I was last in. I'm saddened to discover that Nulla Sam's swelling was the result of an infected dog bite. Koalas are non-aggressive and non-treatening animals, making them vulnerable to such attacks...and therefore undeservingly so! I also notice that Bellevue Bill's prognosis is now listed as poor -- his kidneys have become affected. Bill is such a sweet boy, and young(ish). I'll keep my fingers crossed for him.

More optimistically, I see that there have been a few releases: Hindman Foxie (who has a joey in her pouch) and Oxley Westi (the one with the protruding eyes). A koala has been admitted and released in the days since I last worked at the hospital. Her name is Dunbogan Tracy (after one of the international vollies here) and she looks like such a cutie! You can also read what Tracy and Chris had to say about her here.

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