The plight of our wildlife has been well documented in disturbing scenes across our television screens in the last few months. Many dedicated wildlife carers are working around the clock to care for, and rehabilitate, those affected by the bushfires. Long before the current crisis, the Koala Hospital at Port Macquarie was caring for our furry friends. In fact, in 1973 June and Max Starr, the couple who established the hospital, were taking koalas into their home before eventually partnering with National Parks to build a small hospital.
We’re regular visitors to the Koala Hospital and dropped in on our recent visit to Port Macquarie to leave a donation and check how things are going after recent events. On average the hospital looks after between 250-350 koalas a year but with the recent bushfires that number has increased substantially. The koala patient board was filled with the names and details of the current residents receiving care.
The list of koalas receiving intensive care is unprecedented. A band of 160 volunteers and 7 paid staff take care of the koalas 365 days a year.
A free tour which operates twice a day allows visitors to learn more about the latest residents and what brought them to the hospital.
Where possible the aim is to rehabilitate and release the koalas back to where they were found. Each koala’s name is a combination of the geographic location of where they were found and the person who found the koala. The gorgeous girl pictured above is Lismore Rose who wasn’t able to be returned to the wild. She’s a permanent resident at the Koala Hospital and receives 5-star care every day with fresh leaves, a special formula and dirt which contains minerals aiding digestion.
Many of the koalas brought in due to the fires will be released once vegetation regrows. In the meantime they are screened off at the Koala Hospital to ensure they stay as wild as possible.
The Koala Hospital is collecting donations to build more watering stations like the one above. The watering points are being used to help wildlife they haven’t managed to reach and to assist with those suffering because of the drought. The watering stations have been designed with both low and high watering containers, to allow everything from koalas, echidnas, goannas, kangaroos, snakes, possums and birds to have a drink. BJ wasn’t so sure about putting the money in the barrel. He’s rather fond of collecting cash for himself but eventually parted with it.
The devastating footage which has been shown on the news around the world has had an impact with the Koala Hospital receiving a staggering number of donations. Their adoption program has left some people overseas confused with one man calling from Germany to adopt a koala. He then went on to say he was unsure how the koala would adapt to life in Germany. The adoption program allows for a donation to be made in the name of a koala. People can pick from the many koalas receiving care at the hospital.
On the day we were at the hospital we met a lovely girl from Japan who had been so moved by what she saw on television she’d made a gift for the Koala Hospital and delivered it in person. The gift is called senbazuru in Japanese, which means ‘a thousand cranes’ and is a well known symbol of hope in Japan for people or animals that are injured or suffering from illness. She had made each of the thousand cranes and hoped to create awareness in Japan by starting a social media hashtag and sharing her experience.
In the note she presented to the Koala Hospital she said, “It is my sincere wish that the senbazuru will act not only as symbol of hope but also a bridge to bring Japanese and Australians closer together during this difficult time.”
It’s wonderful to see people coming together to help our wildlife from across the globe. The donations the Koala Hospital has received will assist with rebuilding a new facility in the next 2 years, the water stations and a new wild breeding program. The Koala Hospital is partnering with Taronga Zoo to ensure we don’t leave our precious koalas.
KOALA HOSPITAL PORT MACQUARIE – ACCESSIBILITY
We manage to get around the Koala hospital despite the pine bark pathways. It’s not easy to push a manual chair on this surface but Hubby can do it. I imagine a power wheelchair would find it much easier.
Many of the enclosures are tall which makes it difficult for children and wheelchair users to see. We found a couple of enclosures which have been made accessible but we’d love to see more in the future. I imagine there’s an important balance which needs to be considered with giving the recovering koalas peace and privacy too.
Kids excitedly tested their koala knowledge on a hands on quizz which BJ could manage from his chair.
The word ‘Koala’ means little drink.
Koala’s sleep up to 20 hours a day. They’re not high energy because 65% of their diet is water.
They get on the move at night.
Life span is 15-18 years.
Koalas are not social but have a society with alpha males and alpha females. Alpha males pick the best habitat.
The drought means leaves are drying out more, so koalas don’t get the liquid they need.
We were sad to hear our favourite koala Barry had passed away since our last visit. He’d lived a good life at the Koala Hospital and far longer than he would have in the wild given he suffered from scoliosis.
If you love our koalas I recommend a visit to the Koala Hospital Port Macquarie. It’s free but I urge you to pop something in the donation barrel to help staff and volunteers to keep up their great work.
When visiting Port Macquarie make sure you check out the Koala Sculpture Trail.
Port Macquarie’s beaches also provide lots of accessible fun.