Saturday, 10 April 2010

Fluffy earmuffs and Kempsey Carolina's doppelgänger

I spent a bit of time with Oxley Carl last Sunday. He’s been moved to an outside yard after a week or so in ICU. He's old and debilitated and his ears reflect this. Healthy koalas usually have big, round, perky ears. Poor Carl’s ears drooped so flat against his head, he looked a bit like he was wearing fluffy earmuffs.

When koalas are placed in the outside yards, they automatically look a lot happier. Perhaps it’s the way that the sunlight dapples their fur. I wonder if koalas also absorb vitamin D from the sun, which helps ward off depression in humans? In any case, he was a lot more receptive to taking his nutritional supplement, eagerly grabbing at my hand. He managed to unburden of me of the syringe at one point. It must be a Carl thing. The last koala to do that was Nowendoc Carl, another syringe-grabber. It’s amazing how dexterous a koala’s hand is, even with all those claws. Like a stenographer who can still manage to type 80 words per minute despite having inch-long fingernails. I suppose on koalas they are made to select their preferred leaf with surgical accuracy.

He drank every drop of his formula and then proceeded to lick the pot and then moved on to lapping the water from his leaf pot! It’s behaviour they noticed when he was in ICU and have been monitoring. According to the Hospital Supervisor, the fact that Carl is also piddling a lot can mean that his kidneys are failing :( Although, on a positive note, his blood tests have not shown renal failure yet. Koalas often do not show poor blood results till they are really crook, so here's hoping.

I dropped into the Koala Hospital again during the week to look in at the progress in a few of the furry patients.

Hamlyn Daniel, the koala rescued from my street, looks like a new man! Before Easter, his nose was in poor shape. His left nostril was split through to his mouth and hung in an ungainly fashion. It meant that you could really hear him chewing in an amplified way when he ate.

They wanted to wait until his schnoz dried out a bit before surgery. When I saw him a few days ago, Daniel looked a million dollars, as you can see from these before/after pictures. Before too long he should be transferred to an outside yard to continue his rehabilitation. Then, I should expect to see him nibbling eucalyptus in a tree very near our place in the near future.

On that note, I recently noticed that the leaves on a beautiful big gum tree in our street have turned brown. It might be autumn, but as eucalyptus trees are not deciduous, ALL eucalypts are evergreen, so any eucalypt that loses its leaves is one sick tree It could be because it is not getting any water or the opposite – it’s in super soggy ground and the roots are drowning.

So I knew the tree was probably dying, I was just not sure why. I spoke to Milicia, the Hospital’s ecological consultant, about the possibility of its getting examined by a tree doctor. After investigating, it turned out that the tree had been hit by lightning – not once but twice! It was well and truly dead. It’s going to be removed by the council, but the Hospital will arrange to plant a sapling in its place.

Emerald Downs Barbara has already been moved to an outside recovery yard. Appropriately, it’s yard 5, which was occupied for some years by long-time resident, Kempsey Carolina. Kempsey was also blind but had her right eye removed, not her left - so Barbara could be Kempsey's mirror image! I’m not sure yet of Barbara’s recovery status: whether she’ll become the ‘new’ Kempsey, as it were, or whether the eyesight in her right eye will improve enough for her to be released. Certainly, yard 5 must have had some good Feng Shui because Kempsey spent some long, happy years there.

I'm also delighted to report that the whimsically named Waterlily Sweetpea has been released!

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