Friday, 26 December 2008

Koalas in the news

It started with a little press release, suggesting that adopting a koala for Christmas might be a more meaningful way to spend your dough than buying Dad the ubiquitous three-pack of socks from Lowes. The story -- Forget socks, adopt a koala for Christmas -- got picked up by Reuters and went viral. The message to adopt a koala for a loved one for Christmas ended up on blogs, news services and websites around the world. By the time the story found its way to a paper in India, the koalas were no longer alternative gifts to socks, they were in the socks: Koalas in socks!.

The Hospital has been flat-chat (gratefully so) filling the orders that began flooding in from around the world: World donates $16,000 to our koalas.

The Hospital is just delighted by the response and can't wait to start putting the money to good koala use.

On a separate note, I (belatedly) came across this interesting article describing how scientists have been utilising mobile phone technology to monitor koala mating noises: Mobile phones eavesdrop on Aussie koalas. Well, if that's all it takes, I could easily have lobbed my phone out the window these last few nights: the koalas hanging around our backyard have been bellowing up a storm lately.

You can adopt a koala all year round here.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Bowden Sam: the power of the fluffy flap

A few months ago we moved to a part of Port Macquarie that is well-trafficked by koalas (and not so well-trafficked by traffic, fortunately). We discovered the "koality" of the neighbourhood when the cries of a pair of loved-up wahlees (as we call them in the trade) lullabied us to sleep one Spring night. Our new "habitat" butts against a green-belt which is zoned as genuine koala habitat - a koala corridor right in our backyard.

Shortly before the move, a koala was rescued very near our new house, in a street called Bowden Road. Rescuers Peter and Manda named the rescuee "Bowden Sam" (after the street name, which is our custom) and after the name of an associated human - usually the rescuer, the person who called in to report the koala, or, in my case, the koalawrangler who happened to be relocating to a house nearby.

Around the time of Sam’s release, we moved into our new house. Straightaway, we took a walk around the area hoping we'd be lucky enough to spot one of our tree-dwelling marsupial neighbours. We were spoilt: we saw not one but two koalas, and one of these was in Bowden Road.

The koala in question wasn't terribly high up (it wasn't a terribly high tree); in fact, I was a bit concerned that it contained a koala at all since the tree was at a suburban crossroads, surrounded by brick homes with dog-filled backyards and kids riding about on their bikes. This was not exactly dense, protective foliage.

It was heading into twilight so the koala seemed fairly alert, peering down at us with some interest. I circled the tree, looking out for the wahlee's Koala Hospital eartag but didn't spot one. The way this koala looked so intently at me - even moving about the branches to obtain a better view of us - made me wonder whether he was an ex-patient and was therefore used to the feeding rituals at the hospital (where many of the patients receive supplemental nutrition via syringe at 8am and 3pm daily).

It was well after 3pm but this koala was definitely interested in us, and I couldn't help but wonder if I had have whipped a feed pot out of my pocket, whether he wouldn't have made his way down the trunk for a spot of arvo tea. I was still wearing my Koala Hospital t-shirt after my earlier shift at the hospital, so maybe he thought we were now coming to them! A bit of post-release care!

Although I couldn't spy an eartag, what I did spy was what appeared from below to be a third ear - a fur-covered skin fold growing above the koala's right shoulder. The next time I saw Cheyne I tried to describe it. Her response? "Fluffy flap? Oh, that's Bowden Sam"! I was incredulous. Fancy the chances of an animal released to the wild hanging out in the very street after which he was named!

All koalas, like people, are distinctive in some way (if you know what to look for). In Bowden Sam's case, his identifying feature was his fluffy flap. Not that that bothered him any; although, for the Koala Hospital it proved quite useful as things turned out. Normally, the procedure is for a koala to be eartagged and microchipped just before release. However, when Sam was released, it was a case of: "I thought you eartagged him??", "No, I thought you eartagged him??". So when Sam was released, he was sans eartag, which explains why I couldn't see one.

After that, we made a habit of taking walks past that tree; we even modified our trips into town, creeping along Bowden Road in the car so as to "check on" Sam. It was always satisfying when he was there in 'his' tree, and more than a little nervewracking when he wasn't. Like any normal koala he would have several trees he called home in his home range. I wondered whether there were other avid Sam-watchers like us who worried about where he was when he wasn't in the tree they called 'his' tree.

Then our sightings of him grew less and less. Koala mating season was coming into full swing now: perhaps, we reasoned, Sam was off seeking out mates. We had harboured a secret hope that that carousing "Bonky Bill" we saw and heard in the clutch of bush reserve at the back of our place (although too far away to identify) was 'our' Bowden Sam gettin' jiggy wit' some koala sheila.

Over the ensuing months, I got busy with other things so it was a while between visits to the Koala Hospital. Then, just the other day, I dropped into the hospital where I was delighted by the likes of Barb's little homecare joey, Settlement Point Bea. While there, I flicked throught the daybook where I discovered the reason Sam sightings had dried up was that he had been back at the hospital! And he had been attacked by a dog. Oh no, poor Sam! (Fortunately, he had been successfully patched up and released only the day before my visit.)

Here was where his fluffy flap had come in handy. Without a tag to identify him as a former paitent, this koala was, to all intents and purposes, a new admission. Yet according to the staff at the hospital, they had him sitting on the treatment room table and were scratching their heads as to why the koala was taking fluids so readily and looking around like he owned the place (I hadn’t been feeding him on the sly, honestly!). When they had a good look at him and saw the fluffy flap above his right shoulder, they recalled the koala-with-the-fluffy-flap but not his name. Other hospital staff were contacted who could remember the fluffy bit too, but not the name of the koala. Then they leafed through some earlier admission data, saw Bowden Sam's name, and it rung a bell. When they dug out Bowden Sam's chart, voila! There is was in black and white: fluffy tag on right shoulder but hadn’t been eartagged. Sam's fluff flap saves the day. His identify was doubly confirmed when they re-ultrasounded him and the photo was a facsimile of the previous one taken of Sam during his last visit. This time when Sam was released, they made extra sure he was eartagged and microchipped. He’s now out in the wild again.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Sam's re-admission was where he had been found when he was rescued after the dog attack. He was picked up in Oxide Street (point B) - on the other side of Port from Bowden Road (point A).

Image courtesy of Google Maps Australia.

It amazed me just how far Sam had tarried from away from his eponymous Bowden Road. According to Google Maps, it's an hour or more by foot (although Sam would have travelled from A to B by foot and tree, as well as heading more 'as the crow flies' - straight through the reserve, then over a number of roads and across the not insubstantial Kooloonbung Creek) to reach Oxide Street near the Oxley Highway.

This is either a testament to the breadth of a koala's particular home range, or an indictment on the effects of habitat loss and urbanisation that Sam was forced to seek a mate so far afield. There is an interesting article, "Why Habitat Is So Important", exploring this very topic in December's hot-off-the-press Gum Tips newsletter if you'd like to know more.

So this explained why we hadn't seen Sam in a while - he'd been in the hospital and before that, he taken up digs far away from 'home'. I'd like to say I've seen Sam in his usual tree again since his release, but I haven't. He has been sighted only recently however, over near the TAFE - about half way between Bowden Road and Oxide Street. I must pay him visit some time!

New Gum Tips out now!

The December issue of Gum Tips, the Koala Hospital newsletter, is out now!

Click on the cover to download it or browse other issues of Gum Tips here.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

"Waiter, there's a koala in my oysters!"

I do rather enjoy the visual of Barb decked out in her winter woolies at 8 o'clock of a night with a frisky young joey scampering about her...
Settlement Point Bea

*singing* "Bea-cause bea-cause bea-cause bea-cause bea-cauuuusssse...bea-cause of the wonderful things she does!"

Do I appear to be lost in a Wizard of Oz reverie (coupled with confused spelling)? No! It's just that I'm in a state of mild u-phoria, make that b-phoria, after an audience with the Koala Hospital's tiniest charge, the bea-utiful Settlement Point Bea.

I haven't been into the hospital for a while and, well, it was as busy as Horton Street on a Saturday morning (actually I don't even think Horton Street ever gets as busy as the Koala Hospital was today). Susan from National Geographic was there taking new footage and toting her video camera/boom mike contraption (you can read about her last visit here); Geoff was busy showing around some Friends of the Koala Hospital; and Barb had come in to pick up some fresh leaf tips for her little homecare joey, Settlement Point Bea.

I'd not met Bea before - the closest I'd come was to her was fixing a santa hat on one of her photos for the Koala Hospital Christmas card. In the flesh, she didn't look quite real...such a little creature yet one with a will of her own.

Bea's association with the Koala Hospital started with a call on 10 October. I must have been in that day because I recall the caller's words well, "a koala has just had a baby...".

This was not likely - in truth, the 'baby' is about the size of a peanut when it is born. This tiny unfurred 'pinkie' then crawls its way up through its mother's fur to the pouch where it spends the next few months suckling and growing and thinking very little about the outside world.

What the caller probably saw was this very small joey making an unscheduled move out of the pouch, as suggested by the caller's second statement: "...and the baby has fallen onto some rocks!".

Rescuers from the Koala Hospital were immediately dispatched.

Little Bea, a small female joey weighing only 445g, had indeed fallen from her mother's pouch and tumbled 10 metres onto some oyster-covered rocks. Fortunately, though, a layer of dried seagrass cushioned the joey's fall. According to our vet, the bones in a young joey are still growing making them less brittle. So luckily Bea only sustained a scratch near her nose which has nowhealed.

Since that day, Bea has been in homecare with Barb, one of the Hospital's regular foster mothers. Bea spends almost all her time in a reconstructed pouch. First, Bea grips onto a sheepskin roll (an ingeniously recycled car seat cover), which simulates the feel of the koala's mother's dense fur. She is then wrapped in a small square of flannelette sheet, and nestled inside a larger flannelette 'pocket'. This koala pocket sits in a washing basket on top of a comfy cushion that is first covered in protective plastic, then in another layer of flannelette sheeting. A baby blanket on top of it all keeps Bea tucked into 'bed'.

Settlement Point Bea(Apologies for the blurry pics - all I had on hand was my mobile phone camera! Notice what's going on in the bottom right photo: Bea was fascinated with the boom mike, probably thought it was a long-lost relative!)

Bea stays cozily inside her flannelette pouch most of the day and night, except when it's feed time or play time. Barb had come into the hospital to get Bea a sprig of fresh nicholii leaf - her favourite. There is always a small bundle of leaf tips inside the basket where Bea can easily reach them.

Before Bea could attempt to eat leaf, we had to ensure that her gut contained the right flora to allow her digestive system to break down the eucalyptus leaf that is the koala's primary diet. The way joeys obtain this flora naturally is by eating their mother's pap - a special type of poo. Although Bea's mother was sighted in trees near where Bea was rescued, she could not be caught; this was unfortunate since she had visible 'wet bottom' (clinical signs of chlamydia), and needed treatment.

The only reason Bea is able to eat leaf at all is because we were able to source pap from a koala that died. At least one koala's death permitted little Bea to survive and flourish.

But leaf is not all Bea eats. She still take nutritional supplements from a syringe. barb was pleased to say that her nightly feeds have now decreased. Bea's basket sits on a chair by Barb's bed and she takes food at 10.30pm, 2am and then at 5am ... allowing foster Mum and Dad a bit of shut-eye between feeds at night. Apparently Barb knows when koala bub wants feeding by the rustling and gentle 'eh eh' noises coming from the pouch. This way, Bea also lets Barb know when she's wet her bedding and is ready for a pouch change!

An early point of concern had been Bea's fur colour; healthy koalas in NSW are generally grey in colour. Bea's fur tends towards brown - which can be a sign of deterioration and may have been result of her mother's being unwell due to wet bottom. She also caused some worry in the early days when she was only gaining about 30g a week. However, at 5.5 months old, Bea is doing well and is improving all the time. In the last week, however, she's gained 100g. She now weighs almost 700g.

Bea has designated 8pm every night as 'playtime'. I suppose it could be worse - playtime could be at 3am... Bea's idea of play is to crawl right out of her artificial pouch and up onto mother Barb, where she nips at Barb's eyebrows and nibbles the side of her nose. Indeed, Bea decided to give us all an example of this behaviour in the Hospital day room today. Barb was surprised by how full of bea-ns Bea was, despite the number of people around. She said she's not a particularly social creature. Unlike other joeys Barb's reared, Bea is a generally not a people-person. "She won't be a 'cuddly bear'", as Barb puts it. She prefers a bite to a kiss and cuddle, which is just how a koala should be.

As well as being a bit early for playtime, Barb was keen to settle Bea back into her pouch. You see, Barb wasn't wearing her special playtime outfit. And what was that, I was keen to know? A thick winter dressing gown that Barb dons, even in the verge of Summer; anything to protect delicate human skin from those pincer-sharp claws. I do rather enjoy the visual of Barb decked out in her winter woolies at 8 o'clock of a night with a frisky young joey scampering about her...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Motorists, take note: it's mating season again

I've fallen into being more computerwrangler than koalawrangler lately. Most of my koala-related time has been spent connecting printers in the Hospital office and working with the Hospital Supervisor to update the much awaited second edition of our Koala Rehabilitation Manual. I've also helped publish the latest issue of Gum Tips, the Hospital's newsletter -- available for download here.

So although I've spent more time wrangling printer cables than our furry patients at the koala-face, there's a story I've been meaning to follow up on.

It means jumping on the soap box for a bit to send out a big "shame, Australia, shame" to a number of reckless motorists. You'll understand my ire if I tell you the story of Siren Gem.

Gem came to the Hospital as an orphaned joey back in February 2007. He was very dehydrated so was taken into home care for round-the-clock care by Barb, before being transferred to the joey yard at the hospital to grow big enough for release. After a few false starts (inconsistent weight gain and bullying by an older joey), Gem reached ideal release weight in May 2007 and was returned to the wild. Because he was so photogenic, Gem was made available for adoption in our Adopt A Wild Koala scheme.

Not much more than a year later, a motorist in Port Macquarie stopped their vehicle to allow a koala cross the road safely. The cars behind also slowed to a halt. However, one motorists further down the line, no doubt unware of the cause of the delay, was not prepared to wait -- they overtook and sped past the stationary cars, and, by so doing, hit and killed the koala crossing the road. That koala was Siren Gem.

It is devastating when any healthy koala dies, but it is somehow more distressing when it is a koala that we've nursed to health only to have it killed so senselessly. Sadly, it's not the first time this exact scenario has taken place -- a motorist has overtaken a slowing vehicle on the road in front of them and killed a crossing koala in their haste. It doesn't bear thinking about if it had been someone's child crossing the road...

It's a privilege to live where we do, but it comes with its responsibilities. The increasing migration out of the cities (which I was a part of) places further pressure on the koala in rural areas. More houses means less habitat; less habitat means more dog attacks and car accidents, as koalas' home ranges decrease and they are forced to move about on the ground, not tree to tree. The impact of habitat loss exacerbates the incidence of wet bottom and eye infections as the koala's increasing marginalisation places them under more stress than they have previously ever known.

But none of this excuses motorists' impatience or thoughtlessness. There are look-out-for-wildlife signs everywhere. These are designed to protect the wildlife with whom we share our country, which also means our roads.

So a word to motorists: koala mating season is now upon us (a personal experience of that here), so for the next five months there will be more koalas on the move as they seek out mates. For their sake, and the sake of future joeys, please heed the wildlife warning signs. Prevent wildlife fatalities if you can!

Okay, off the soapbox now, and on with a good-news story!

Spunky Lindfield Holden has visited us twice -- both times as a survivor of motor vehicle accidents (one back in 2007, and again this year), and was re-released after some serious Koala Hospital TLC just a few months ago. You can read all about his recent visit in the current Gum Tips.

Lindfield Holden is available for adoption through the Hospital's Adopt A Wild Koala scheme. You can adopt him online here. Adoptions are a primary source of revenue to enable the Hospital to rehabilitate koalas like Holden.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The noise you never forget

Koala habitat - our backyard
Koala habitat - our backyard
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Just after my partner and I had turned in for the night, a curious sound had us sitting bolt upright in the bed.

"What is it?"
"I don't know!"
"It sounds like..."
"It could be..."
"...a koala!

We jumped out of bed and ran outside. It was a koala mating call, all right. But we realised the noise wasn't coming from directly outside the room (which is how it sounded), but was actually issuing from a cluster of tall gums in the reserve beyond our neighbour's house (between the pine and the pink flowering tree in the above photo). "On a still night", the Qld government site reminds us, "the call can be heard almost a kilometre away".

What sounded at first like one koala quickly became two as the jittery "eeh eeh" of the female joined forces with the alien grunt-snort of the male. (You can hear the sounds I'm talking about on this video - not sure where it was taken.

It should have come as no surprise to a seasoned koalawrangler. The NSW government fact sheet on koalas tells us:

"This usually happens between September and January, when the trees ring with a wide range of mating noises. Koala mating songs range from the pig-like grunts and growls of the males, to the high pitched trembling sounds of the females."
Of course, I'd heard the sound many times at the hospital as males in the close confines of ICU assert their macho prowess (it was often accompanied by trashing their unit); but until we moved to a part of Port Macquarie with that is surrounded by protected habitat, the pleasure of having our sleep disturbed by these night-time rituals was denied us.

So we stood outside in our jammies listening to this grunting and eeh-eeh!-ing gradually decrease. Then we returned to bed. Little did we realise that this was not the last we'd heard of it, however; the trees continued to ring with the male koala song throughout the night...every hour, it seemed!

I wonder what this is what we have to look forward to at our new address? If more joeys are the result of such a cacophony, I'm all for it.

There are many wild koalas available for adoption here including Hospital resident koala Bonny Fire's joey, Bonny Blaze.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Bonny's baby gets a name (and you can adopt him)!

Bonny Blaze

Yes, that's right, Bonny Fire's precious little bundle now has a name: Bonny Blaze.

And Blaze is now available for adoption by clicking here! What a great Christmas gift -- a certificate bearing Blaze's photo and personalised with your recipient's name, and the satisfaction that your donation has helped the hospital continue to care for other koalas who are not as lucky as little Blaze.

You can see what a handsome bundle he's growing into in this video:

Blaze is fully outside the pouch now, as you can see, and even wanders a little way off from Mum as his independence grows. He's also eating leaf, which is of course essential part of growing into a fully-fledged koala!

Click here to see more photos of Bonny Blaze.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Rest in peace, Wiruna Lucky

Wiruna Lucky

Wiruna Lucky was a beautiful old koala who shared the "old girls' yard", yard 9, with Bonny Fire, Birthday Girl (until recently) and dear Cloudie.

Like Cloud, she seemed to be a fixture in the place. As an elderly koala needing extra nutrition and hydration, she was fed formula twice a day, which sometimes meant locating her in the vast area of yard 9. You see, Lucky was a bit of a wanderer. She wouldn't gallop around the perimeter of the yard like she wanted to get out, but rather, would make her visits to various spots in the place, such as Perch Miracle's gravestone or the various trees that studded the yard.

This is the last footage I took of Lucky as she traversed yard 9.

Lucky was almost entirely blind so perhaps she liked travelling around her yard on foot so as to take stock of her surroundings. Volunteers got used to Lucky bumping into them at the leaf cutting table or jumping the line for formula, in front of Bonny Fire.

Unfortunately, due to her age, Lucky's molars were becoming increasingly ground down. On numerous occasions, Lucky would present with a a lopsided bloating to her face - it turned out that this was due to nothing more than a pad of semi-chewed eucalytus leaf deposited in the side of her cheek. Volunteers would have to massage the pad down for her to swallow it.

Koalas need healthy teeth to grind down the large volume of leaf they need to consume each day to survive. In Lucky's case, she was no longer able to do this adequately. It was her time to join Cloud in the great gumtree in the sky.

Dear speckley-nosed one, you will be missed.

Wiruna Lucky

Click here to see more photos of Wiruna Lucky.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Joey joy

Just two weeks ago, Bonny Fire was tantalising us all with her delightfully puckered pouch and the promise of joey within! She was down from her favourite tree a lot more than usual, getting her extra fill of freshly delivered leaf now that she's eating for two.

Bonny Fire
Bonny's full pouch
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Then, unexpectedly, a little arm would shoot out...

Bonny Fire
Oy! Whose arm is that?
From koalawrangler's gallery.

I just managed to catch the arm retreating back into the pouch on video:

...and we knew that it wouldn't be too long before this little smiley face paid us a visit.

All the beautiful photos below are courtesy of Broken Puzzle's gallery.

Click here to see more photos of Bonny Fire's precious little joey at the Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie.

Click here to find out just how our Bonny got in the family way in the first place!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Hospital for...possums? no. 3

Possy the sugar glider
Possy Possum at 52 grams
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Possy Possum, the sugarglider

Strictly speaking, Possy wasn't really in the hospital's care, but rather in Cheyne's, the hospital supervisor. Cheyne fed Possy around the clock at home and brought him into the koala hospital every day on her motorbike, tucked safely into her leather jacket. Possy spent the day in the humidicrib which is usually reserved for pinkies (unfurred koalas). Possy was snug as a bug in a rug, enveloped in a nest of knitted pouches, all the colours of the rainbow.

Cheyne fed Possy with a marsupial supplement every few hours - much the same routine as with a young koala joey. The syringe was almost too big for little Possy who would eagerly gulp at the drops of formula.

Ten weeks' later, and Possy Possum is showing all the signs of developing into a healthy young sugar glider.

He weighed in at the grand amount of 52 grams, and he is developing the telltale webbing through his arms that will allow him to glide from branch to branch.

Possy the sugar glider

Possum Cam!

Click here to see more photos of possum patients recovering at the Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie.

Noah's a goer

When last we left little Noah, he was extending his stay in Port Macquarie by a few more weeks. His weight was a bit lower than we'd have liked, and we wanted to be sure young Noah would have everything in his favour before we released him back into the world.

By the beginning of May, Noah was ready for his big trip back to his home range down near Port Stephens, over two and half hours away from the Koala Hospital.

Apparently, Noah enjoyed his road trip home. He munched on nicholii and red iron bark leaf all the way, and never once whined, "are we there yet?"

On arrival, Noah took off up his chosen tree, a Eucalyptus robusta, or good ol' swamp mahogany, as we koalawranglers call it, a koala favourite. Having spent over six months in the same tree (in our joey yard), Noah naturally took a moment or two to orient himself before scooting to the top of the tree and digging in to the fresh leaf.

I'm told that it was dusk by the time his carers from the Native Animal Trust Fund left Noah happily chewing away. Although it's a bit cooler down there than in Port Macquarie, they resisted giving him a blankie...he's got plenty of koala fur to keep him warm :)

Click here to see more photos of One Mile Beach Noah.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

One Mile Beach Noah...still on the beach

Little Noah has been "on loan" to us from our friends at Native Animal Trust Fund for the last few months. He is an orphan, like our other joeys, and has been sharing a yard with three girls until he grows big enough to be returned to his home range down south. You can read more about Noah here.

There's been a note on the board for the last week or so that we should attempt to "capture" Noah if he should come down during our shifts as he is just about due for his return home. Since the joeys have a tree in their yard, they keep their own schedule, coming down for leaf when it suits them, often in the middle of the night. Noah generally "assumes the position" in the lowest crook of the tree and doesn't budge.

Cheyne examining Noah

The other girl joeys tend to manoeuvre around the tree to avoid him as he gets a touch grumpy if his sleep is disturbed (even though he's sleeping in a major thoroughfare!). We call him "No Way Noah", cos there's no way any other joey is getting past him without some fierce words. You can read about one such altercation here.

Today, Noah is in the treatment room being de-ticked. He's being collected tomorrow to return home to One Mile Beach.

A total of nine ticks have been plucked off Noah so far (see below). Tick infestations can lead to anaemia in koalas, especially young ones who don't carry the body weight of adult koalas. Despite the good job Cheyne and Amanda are doing, Noah is grizzling as they gently search his fur. After they're satisfied he's clean, he sits on the table, happy as Larry, just looking around with a dopey expression on his face. "Shouldn't I be sleeping?", he's probably wondering.

Cheyne has jumped on the phone to Noah's original carers. It seems that Noah has lost some weight since his last weigh-in, which could be to do with his tick burden. Cheyne and NATF agree that Noah's release should be delayed for a few weeks until Noah beefs up a bit.

Here's a video of Noah just kicking back on the treatment table following his tick search:

He's going to spend a night in ICU to make it easy for the staff to check him for ticks tomorrow. Then he'll be back in his usual spot in yard 6, pending release once around Anzac Day.

It was something of a comedy of errors transferring Noah into a unit for the night. As joeys usually do, he kept swinging his little legs in an effort to free himself from Amanda's grasp:

(Warning: the following video contains mild coarse language).

Click here to see more photos of One Mile Beach Noah.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Koalawrangler: legend in own lunchtime

Yes, I've managed to accrue my 15 minutes of fame by sharing the cover of the local phone directory with one of our lovely rescued koalas.

The lovely people at Local Directories were given thousands of koala photos to choose from and, for some reason, they decided on one featuring yours truly!

I will be signing copies of the directory in your local Westfield soon! (Not).

Actually, it's great publicity for the Koala Hospita1, so we're all thrilled. It's just lucky I'm not on the run from the law or else my cover would really be blown now.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Granite Murray's in the bag

Granite Murray is still in ICU and receiving treatment as part of the Sydney uni trials. It's all in the name of curing chlamydia. He seems happy to receive his 100ml of formula and takes it without a bit of fuss. Below you can see my five-step feeding-bagging method for Granite Murray:

1. Feed him. About 100ml ought to do it.

2. Give him a comforting little pat.

3. Whip the bag over his head when he's not looking.

4. Give it a twist to ensure no koala "bits" (claws, teeth) can get out.

5. Hey presto! One bagged koala!

(Don't try this at home!)

Click here to see more photos of this week's koala patients recovering at the Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie.

Joeys behaving badly

It's not easy being the only boy koala occupying a single tree with three girls. Just ask One Mile Beach Noah.

As a relative newcomer to yard 6, Noah has made his home in one of the lower forks of the yard's tree. The spot has become a favourite for him; you often see him flopped in the crook of its branches, arms and legs dangling like a happy sloth.

Trouble is, this fork is a bit of major thoroughfare, especially when new leaf has arrived. Today, Helene was distributing leaf into the several pots strewn around the gunyah in yard 6. Oxley Holly (I can tell it's her by her nose) decided she was heading down for a gander at the smorgasboard.

But Noah was having none of it.

Noah wouldn't budge so Holly shimmied down the main trunk and wedged herself in front of Noah (where they gave each other a bit of a sniff). Then, when Holly didn't vamoose her caboose, he gave her a warning nibble on the shoulder.

Noah giving Holly a warning chomp
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Holly eeped a little and then clipped Noah over the ear before taking off up the tree again.

It was time for Holly's Plan B.

Her next tactic was to reverse down the tree...onto Noah's head. She sat there on Noah's noggin for a bit, before he gave Holly her final marching orders.

Holly sitting on Noah
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Holly gave up and took off...and Noah resumed the position in *his* treefork.

One Mile Beach Noah
One Mile Beach Noah back in the zone without any pesky chicks around
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Here's some of the action caught on KoalaKam:

Interestingly, it was almost exactly a year ago that I blogged on some other joeys behaving badly in Joeyz in da hood.

In other news, Hamlyn Bev is jumped ship from the round yard in yard 10 into yard 10 proper. She is currently, unhelpfully, up a pine tree.

Nowendoc Carl is looking a million bucks after his operation to remove the inflammed tissue from his eyes. The right is still cloudy, but the left is much clearer. He looks much better just being out in the yards and "upstairs" (on the top part of the gunyah), rather than looking lacklustre on the bottom rung as he did inside. His fur, which was a dun-brown colour on admission looks to me like it's got some healthier grey flecks coming through, or perhaps that's just from seeing him in the sun for the first time. He's much brighter and grabbier too - he managed to wangle the syringe off me at one point (to the amusement of the watching visitors) and attempted to feed himself with it to no avail before submitting to my giving it another go!

Poor Emerald Matilda, the blind koala from last week, was euthanased. Another blind koala, Banksia Ted, has come in to be assessed. There is also a Lighthouse Di who is just the cutest looking thing, who might be entering the Sydney uni trials as she is a wet bottom.

Click here to see more photos of this week's koala patients recovering at the Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie.