Thursday, 9 August 2007

Sandhill Col

Golfer is giving off a particularly gamey scent right now and I notice that his scent gland, the furry cleft in his chest, is glistening. I wonder if that’s pure parfum du koala seeping out of there?
Amanda must be psychic. She's written me up for yard 10, which is just where I'd like to be. I haven't wrangled up there for about six weeks. I take Tractive Golfer’s feed pot and set off, grabbing some newly sharpened clippers from the tool shed on the way. Ocean Golfer is the first koala I see as I enter the yard. He’s the one Tractive was giving a hard time when he was in yard 10z. He seems to mind less now that Ocean is on the periphery. Tractive is down on his gunyah and lets me give him a feed. There’s nothing more serene than feeding one of these animals in the morning sunlight with only the birdsong in your ears. Golfer is giving off a particularly gamey scent right now and I notice that his scent gland, the furry cleft in his chest, is glistening. I wonder if that’s pure parfum du koala seeping out of there?

It’s getting confusing with all the golfers in here. There are also a number of “Oceans” at the hospital too, courtesy of Ocean Drive, a main road nearby. Cheyne comes in to give Ocean Golfer some medication. He looks like he’s doing well in here. He’s a round little fellow who clearly likes his food. I hear him rustling around in his leaf a bit, searching out a choice bit of yesterday’s leaf.

I mention to Cheyne that I noticed our old friend Links Lorna had been in the hospital during the week. She was the koala I first heard make an “eeping” noise whenever she was a bit miffed. Unfortunately, she had become debilitated since her release, losing two kilos which is a significant amount for a koala of Lorna’s size. Cheyne said she looked just like O’Briens Fiona had—scrawny and unwell—before they decided it would be best to euthanase her. Now that I’ve been a koalawrangler for over six months, I’m more aware of those koalas I’ve met with early on coming in for repeat visits. It’s the nature of living with what they call an urban koala population. Having said that, we get older koalas in who’ve gone through most of their lives in Port Macquarie without ever needing to pay us a visit.

Sandhill Col is another koala who could use some more meat on his bones. He’s not an old koala but he has a grizzled look about him that makes him seem older than his years. He suffers from conjunctivitis and has recently been moved outside. His fur is darker than most, which is often a barometer on illness, similar to the way Anna Bay Miles’s used to be before he made a 180 degree improvement and lighter patches started coming through. Like all the koalas that graduate to the outdoors, Col looks a lot happier in the sunlight. He’s also eating up his leaf so I make sure to prepare him some juicy big bunches.

Jackie is just finishing off ICU. There is a new little joey in ICU who’s a real cutie (aren’t they all?). At present, it’s unsure whether Anna Bay Lil is Lil or Bill until we get definitive tests back. S/he is snuggled in the leaf when I peer in. He’s being strictly dehumanised to prepare him for life in the wild again.

One-eyed Herschel Grady and Hamlyn Jack with conjunctivitis are both still in ICU. There’s a newcomer, a motor vehicle accident victim. Ocean Jane was hit by a car on Ocean Drive. The poor chap who hit her put her straight in his car and brought her in to the hospital, making sure to visit her again that afternoon. Amanda asks me to feed her and as I enter she turns the sweetest face towards me. She has a bit of a mucous problem, her right nostril gummed up with snot. She has difficulty swallowing so I ease the syringe into her mouth and take it slow. She’s interested enough, but can only lap slowly. She drinks more than three quarters of the pot in this fashion until she produces a snorty gargle in her throat signals she wants no more.

I promise Jackie I’ll mop ICU when she’s done and flick through the day book while I’m waiting. Barton Glen has been released! I feel a special simpatico for the ones I’ve wrangled up close. Good for Barton Glen.

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