Friday, 17 August 2007

Joey news

The departure of our star attraction, Anna Bay Sooty and her little "Smudge", has left an gap in the joey department here at the koala hospital. Of course, we still have the beautiful Ocean Kim in residence. Kimmy has spent most of her young life at the hospital, since her Mum was hit by a car when she was still a pouch-borne joey. Once Kimmy has put on enough weight she will be released. In the meantime, she is always eager for fresh leaf, and will often scamper down to the gunyah and wait for its arrival.

She shares yard 6 with a much more reclusive joey, Lake Christmas, who barely ever makes it to planet earth. He was a bit older than Kimmy when she came in, so she had more wildness in her. She was happier in the higher branches and tended not to sit waiting for her tucker.

So when Kimmy bolted down to the gunyah the other day, I was busy chatting away to her, saying Kimmy-this, Kimmy-that, when I realised that she didn't have that telltale single white eyebrow poking out over her right eye (which gives her a slightly mad look). All the while I thought I was talking to Kimmy, I was actually in the presence of the Yeti-like Lake Christmas!

We've got a koala mum, Bellangry Niky, and her joey currently recuperating in homecare with Joyce, the experienced carer who tended to Ocean Kim's Mum, Ocean Therese when she first came to us.

We also have a tiny joey called Tinkerbell who, at 145 grams, was malnourished when she came to us and is getting round-the-clock TLC from another of our expert homecarers.

There have been some fascinating developments on the Anna Bay Lil front, a joey brought in during the week. When admitted, s/he was initially labelled female but her genitals were ambiguous; s/he appeared to have underdeveloped testes, so more tests were made to identify this little koala's biological sex. The results have now confirmed that Lil is intersex, that is, s/he presents both male and female sexual characteristics, a condition that occurs infrequently in both animals and human beings. So Anna Bay Lil is now Anna Bay Lilly Billy and has moved from ICU to take pride of place in sunsoaked yard 9a.

It was hoped that we would be able to keep Anna Bay Lilly Billy here at the hospital. Intersex koalas have seldom been documented, so it would have added greatly to our koala knowledge to be able to monitor her/his progress as Lilly Billy matures and develops. It would also be fascinating to witness his/her behaviour with male and female koalas. However, the powers that be have decided that s/he is to be released back into the wild, despite his/her inability to breed.