Thursday, 14 February 2008

Freeing the Foxie lady (again)

Newport Bridge Gloria
Newport Bridge Gloria
From koalawrangler's gallery.

When I drove in this morning, there was a koala trap set up around one of the towering gums that overhangs yard 9. What's that about, I wonder?

I see there's been a koala shuffle afoot in the last week: the koala in yard 2 is NOT Warrego Martin. All I can tell at first glance is that it's one of the girls, I'm just not sure which yet. I'm hoping the change means good news for Martin, rather than the worst kind...

Sure enough, when I get inside I learn that Warrego Martin has been released. Yay! Regatta Lanaye has been shifted along one into Martin's old spot and little Newport Bridge Gloria has moved from her inside unit to yard 3.

Just as I suspected the koala trap outside is for Birthday Girl. Her vigour has taken something of a dramatic upward turn of late. She used to be almost glued to the spot on one of the gunyahs, only occasionally limping along to seek out fresh leaf (such as in the video below).

Birthday Girl suffers from debilitating arthritis but has been receiving ongoing treatment (and much TLC) from the koala hospital staff. Lately, they've been giving her new medication that works so well, Birthday Girl seems to be convinced she can walk on water (or at least climb pretty high, which is more usual). It reminds me a little of the 1985 movie Cocoon in which a bunch of elderly people discover a pool filled with alien cocoons. After swimming in it, it has a 'fountain of youth' effect on them and they find themselves capable of doing things they hadn't done for years. In Birthday Girl's case she's even been sighted flirting outrageously with Roto Randy, the rogue male who hangs about the grounds looking out for any available females. I even heard him serenading her with his mating call...

Birthday Girl and Roto Randy (we think)
Birthday Girl and Roto Randy
From koalawrangler's gallery.

The trouble is that she's been missing her twice-daily supplements and not getting her usual supply of leaf. There's also a concern that she only seems capable of moving in one direction - up. She doesn't seem to have a reverse gear...

There's some sad, if expected, news. Ocean Joseph, the sweet-tempered male koala who sustained a fractured pelvis in a car accident, has been euthanased. A major concern was that he didn't seem to be urinating. It turned out that the fracture had occurred in his sacrum (a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine). As this healed, it created a callous which blocked or pinched the nerve that instructs the bladder to release urine; while the nerve responsible for telling the bladder to hold urine was still operational. Consequently, the urine had backed up in his ureters, distending his bladder out of all proportion and damaging his kidneys. Even if his mobility issues had been remedied, the nerve damage prevented this essential urination function. Joseph was a special favourite around here, being affectionately dubbed "Gessepe" by Peter, one of the regular teamleaders. Here's a video of Peter fetching the acquiescent Joseph from his gunyah for a weigh-in.

It goes that way: some sad news, some good news. Granite Murray has been moved outside to the circular yard in yard 10. This is Tractive Golfer's turf. Hopefully, these two alpha males can temporarily share the space amicably. I've said it before and I'll say it again - there's nothing more rewarding than moving a koala to an outside yard after they've been stuck inside in ICU for treatment for several weeks. Once they're outside, it usually means they've done the hard yards and are now in rehab mode in preparation for release.

Newport Bridge Gloria was was moved outside to yard 3 is one we're hopeful of seeing released. This is the second time she has been brought in with wet bottom symptoms, the last time was a year ago. This time around her bottom still has a red tinge but it looks dry. It takes a while for the tail fur to clean itself up after wet bottom has struck.

Hindman Foxie is another koala we've seen in the hospital a few times. Her left eye is blind and completely clouded over. Twice in the last two months, we have been alerted to there being a koala with an obviously damaged eye. Conjunctivitis is a sign of chlamydia so we are just as concerned to investigate sore eyes since wet bottoms as koalas with one or the other still carry the same bacteria.

In Foxie's case however, her right eye is quite healthy and she's in pretty good shape for her age. Whenever she hears the Koala Hospital truck pull up, she's probably thinking, "oh, not you lot again!".

I accompany Peter to release Foxie near Kooloonbung Creek, an area away from the road with lots of gum trees and other dense foliage. When we put back the lid, she continues to sit in her basket for a few moments while she takes it all in. Then she's off, bounding up the tree for several feet until she does the customary koala look-back, that seems to say "I'm okay, you can go now!"

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