Sunday, 9 December 2007

You can't keep a good koala down: Josie

We've had a couple of koalas with us recently with quite debilitating foot injuries.

Salamander Bay Josie, a female, was attacked by a dog who managed to pull the skin and muscle away from the bone of her foot (called "degloving"). Josie was in a poor way when she came to us. She was placed in ICU, on the low beam of a gunyah there so that she could easily access her leaf without having to climb.

During the early part of her convalescence, American National Geographic paid us a visit to film a documentary. Josie was one of the koalas who caught their eye. Here she is playing a starring role:

Susan from National Geographic
American National Geographic's Susan with Salamander Bay Josie
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Due to the attack, Josie's heel bone was protruding through the skin so she underwent an operation to have the bone removed. You would think this would be something to slow any self-respecting koala down, but Josie never seemed to want to rest on her laurels. If koalas have on overriding instinct, it is to get as high up a tree as possible. So even with a bound up foot, Josie would climb up to the higher part of her gunyah with amazing agility.

Salamander Bay Josie
Salamander Bay Josie
From koalawrangler's gallery.

The next part of her treatment was to give her real climbing practice in an outside yard. Yard 4 is a one of the 'training' yards: it has its own tree which Josie took immediate advantage of...so much so that we hardly ever saw her down from it.

In the early stages of her climbing rehabilitation the left foot still arched back towards her in an awkward fashion (which you can see in the photo on the left). But she has been continuing her 'tree-climbing' physiotherarpy and this has worked exceptionally well. She has since been observed placing her foot flat on the ground, and...she has managed to escape from her yard, not once, but TWICE!

Early on we thought that Josie might have limited chances in the wild, and might be better off being transferred to a wildlife sanctuary rather than being released to the wild. But considering she has proven to be an expert climber, the hospital and her overseers at the Native Animal Trust Fund in Port Stephens have decided she is doing well enough to return to the bush!

Click here and here to view more of photos of Salamander Bay Josie.