Thursday, 20 September 2007

Pacific Highway Vina

I feel a bit lethargic as I lock my car and head towards the hospital entrance, but in yard 2, Ocean Jane's fluffy round ears are peeking over her leaf pots and the sight immediately turns my mood around.

I can also see Perks Chris over behind her. He's soaking up the sun and waiting for his leaf. Emma and Jarod are moving around the main yard by the clothes line full of the wash-cloths we use to wipe the koalas little faces after feeding.

On my way inside, I say hi to Carol in the shop. Pete's the teamleader as usual and Judy's supervising today. I check the board to see whose yards I've got, then head out to start on Livingstone Clover. Jarod's in with Kempsey and I pass him her feed-pot. She's nestled in her leaf, not snuffling around on the ground as she was the other day. She's got a bit of a cold or infection at the moment. I noticed her nose was a bit snotty on Thursday, and they're giving her antibiotics at the moment to deal with that. She's one of our precious permanent residents we vollies give five-star care.

Mr Clover is down on his gunyah eating yesterday's leaf. Amanda released him back into his yard on Thursday, which you can see on this video:

Clover was found limping across a busy road when he was admitted. He had an infection in his left knee, possibly as a result of an earlier motor vehicle accident. Consequently, he hobbles around a bit. He's destined to be transferred to Australian Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary since his disability would inhibit his survival in the wild. In all other respects, he's a healthy male so he'll hopefully be able to contibute to the koala numbers over there. A few days before the transfer was due to take place, he took a tumble from his tree in the rehab climbing yard and was taken into ICU for observation. Now he's fit as a flea, and always has a good appetite for his leaf.

I see Chris and Jim pull up in the leaf/rescue truck and Jim jumps out with a koala basket in tow. In the treatment room, it's Chris who looks like he needs treatment: he's clutching a towel around his hand and there's blood spatter on his jeans. He got in the way of the koala's mouth. King Norm (the koala) is fine; just needs relocating. Meanwhile, Chris wonders if he needs stitches. Koalas are rarely very aggressive, but when provoked can deliver a nasty scratch or bite.

Back in the yard, I sort out Clover's recycle and cut his fresh leaf. Somewhere between rescuing and releasing, Chris has managed to bring in today's leaf supply as well. Clover made sure he gave it a right good sniff to decide which were the choicest leaves:

I head in to ICU to see whether they need help in there. Peter grabs the dirt trowel I'm holding and replaces it with a feed pot. There's a new admission who was brought in on Thursday night. She's a small female called Pacific Highway Vina. She was hit by a motor vehicle on the great highway that travels Australia's east coast. Cheyne got called out to collect her at midnight and it was touch and go for a while whether she should be euthanased. She suffered a fractured jaw and injuries to her rump and arm.

Judy took her into home care on Friday night. Often very sick koalas or joeys are packed into baskets with a rolled up towel between their arms that stands in for the tree. But Vina was a feisty one and wouldn't stay in put, which is often a sign that they have the gumption to pull through. She wasn't interested in my feeding her so I asked Judy to step in since she's had more experience with her. Vina's jaw makes it hard for her to chew leaf so it's vital she takes in formula to keep her strength up.

While Judy's coaxing Vina to feed, I set about preparing her leaf and cleaning her unit. There's not a lot of poop, due to her low leaf consumption, but I roll what up what there is in her newspaper floor cover. I get a flashlike memory of playing pass-the-parcel, only generally with sweets and little toys, rather than koala poo pellets(!).

Jim's looking after Lighthouse Barry who is a big old man koala suffering from what looks like conjunctivitus in his left eye. Apparently there's no eye there though, only an infection on the outside, which is being treated with a cream.

Emma's in with Pacific Sam who's a 'repeat offender'. This is the third time he's been in the hospital that Emma knows about, and I remember his second visit from my early days of a wrangling. He's got a skin condition on his shoulder called hyperkeratosis, which is just a thickening of the skin tissue in a certain spot. It looks like he's been scratching at it which is why that suspected he'd been attacked my a dog, but fortunately this was not the case. It reminds me of the fate of poor Morrish Steven, one of the great successes of the uni drug trials. He was cured of his Chlamydia only to be brought in DOA some months later after a dog attack.

According to the daybook, another koala, Chisholm Yalkara, met the same fate. On a positive note, Ocean Flyer who had been brought in after falling from a power pole, has lived to fly another day and was released during the week. Also, sweet little Oxley Kizza, the sweet-faced koala who had reminded me so much of dearly departed Oxley Jo, was released during the week, as was Brindabella Sophie. A suspect growth showed up on Sophie's ultrasound which didn't bode well, but for once we were glad to be wrong--she was given the all-clear by our vet and set on her way.

I start tidying up a bit outside in the yard as Judy goes in to give Kempsey her medication. Judy has looked after a few joeys in her time and I lament to her the dearth of joeys in the place. Of course, it's really a good thing that joeys are being cared for by their mothers and not needing to come into our care, but I still get wistful looking at yard 6 where there have always been joeys since I began wrangling here over six months ago.

Breeding season is almost upon us now, which may mean more joeys coming through. There is a koala called Roto Abigail who lives in the grounds outside the hospital. Abigail has a joey who's big enough to ride on her back. Apparently, on Friday, several of the vollies were in thrall to the antics of a wild male pursuing Abigail over the treetops. It's situations like this where joeys can get separated from their mother. The vollies were holding out towels ready to catch either mother or joey should she fall, but fortunately this didn't happen as Abigail managed to evade her marsupial lothario.

Click here and here to view more of this week's koala hospital snaps.