Wednesday, 17 October 2007

News flash: "Koala bites dog"

If ever I'm in a tight situation, Bellevue Scrapper is definitely the koala I'd want in my corner.
If you've read my disclaimer above, you'll see that I'm not above admitting my lack of know-how in the medical department. I enjoy learning about the scientific side of koala care, primarily because it contributes to my understanding of each koala's "story", but I can be slow on the uptake sometimes. I'm an Arts graduate, okay?! I'll give you an example.

It's Thursday and I've just finished my work in the yards and have ventured into ICU to see what needs doing in there. There's action in the treatment room: Jarrod, Cheyne and Amanda are inspecting a small koala on the treatment table.

KW: "Who's this?".
Cheyne: "A new one: Bellevue Scrapper"

Scrapper got into a scrap with a dog so they are checking her for any wounds. I'm continually amazed at how placid koalas tend to be, showing little more than an ear-wiggle that they're distressed or annoyed. But this particular koala seems to be exceptionally docile as they gently move her about searching out scratches or bite-marks.

Cheyne's pretty used to my dopey questions by now, but I really excel with the following.

KW: "So is it normal for a koala to let you move her around like that?"
Cheyne: "Well, she is unconscious"
KW: "But her eyes are open!"
Cheyne: "Yes, the eyes do stay open when they're under"
KW: "Ohhhhhhhhh". (*thinks to herself* quick, say something brilliant so they don't think you're a complete dork) "So when I got my wisdom teeth out, my eyes were open the whole time???!!!"

Okay, I decided to stop while I was behind.

Bellevue Scrapper's story is a something of a curious one. She was involved in a dog attack, which is a common and horribly depressing occurrence with our urban koalas, especially during mating season (um not because of any weird cross-species hanky-panky, but because mating koalas are on the ground more where, sadly, dogs are king). But, according to the people who brought her in, it was Scrapper who attacked the dog, not the other way round! And Scrapper doesn't have a scratch on her...a couple of ticks, but not a scratch. What makes this story all the more unique is that Scrapper is a tiny little thing, barely more than a juvenile. Cheyne hazarded that she is no more than 18 months old. I don't know how the dog came off following the altercation, but I wouldn't think it'd be woofing too loudly about this one with its canine pals right now. If ever I'm in a tight situation, Bellevue Scrapper is definitely the koala I'd want in my corner.

Perhaps koalas are evolving to take on dogs on their own turf? (Probably not, but it makes for an amusing theory). Scrapper's case is so sadly ironic because we usually have the opposite case on our hands, and the koalas come off far worse than the dogs.

Recently we have had a spate of dog attacks lately. Salamander Bay Josie came to us from our friends at the Native Animal Trust Fund after a dog attack degloved her foot. She is with us to undergo rehab and physio to the area. Dunbogan Mastiff wasn't so lucky and died after an attack by a Mastiff hound.

There's been some releases too. Pacific Highway Vina who tried to "self-release" last week by hightailing it into another yard and up a tree was officially released during the week. She's made an amazing recovery considering she was in such a bad way after being hit by a car only a few weeks ago.

Poor old Comboyne Ken who had a crushed wrist was euthanased and, I'm sad to say, little Cathie Ali.

On a happier note, Chisholm Dave (the one Pete and I rescued from a Camelia bush after taking a dip in a backyard pool [Dave, not me or Pete] was released, as was Pacific Simon who was scampering up Pacific Drive when he was brought in.

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