Over several yaars, Trish and I have been very fortunate to have visited the Koala Hospital, in Port McQuarie on four occasions.
The Koala Hospital is operated by the Koala Preservation Society of Australia Incorporated, a group of volunteers committed to the welfare and preservation of wild koalas.
Koalas are injured in attacks by dogs, hit by cars and victims of bush fires. There are approximately between 250-300 koalas brought to the hospital. They get a name and a street or location where they were found, example: Suzie Elm.
Trish and I were on a teacher exchange from Canada to Australia and were lucky to get a personal tour of the hospital.
The very sick koalas and new admissions are treated in the hospital’s Intensive Care Wing, which is dedicated to John Williamson (singer/activist) for his outstanding generosity over many years to the Koala Hospital.
During recuperation the koalas are moved from Intensive Care to the outdoor yards to enjoy the sunshine. Ensuring the koalas receive a varied diet, additional fresh leaves of three different varieties of Eucalypt are supplied daily. The Intensive Care Units and Outdoor Yards are cleaned daily and water bowls replenished. Some recovering koalas are also given a supplementary diet of soya bean based formula.
“Walk & Talk” tours are conducted at the 3.00pm feed daily. The “walk & talk” incorporates watching a feed and then a guided tour around the outside yards giving visitors information on all our koalas.
Upon full recovery, the koala is returned to its home range.
Koalas do not drink much water and they get most of their moisture from these leaves. In Aborigine language, the word ‘koala’ means ‘no water’.
- Koalas are nocturnal marsupials famous for spending most of their lives asleep in trees. During the day they doze, tucked into forks or nooks in the trees, sleeping for up to 18 hours.
- This sedentary lifestyle can be attributed to the fact they have unusually small brains and survive on a diet of nutrient-poor leaves.
When not asleep a koala feeds on eucalyptus leaves, especially at night. Koalas do not drink much water and they get most of their moisture from these leaves. In Aborigine language, the word ‘koala’ means ‘no water’. Koalas can become dehydrated in very high temperatures though.
- Each animal eats a tremendous amount for its size—about one kilogram of leaves a day. Koalas even store snacks of leaves in pouches in their cheeks.
- Out of over a hundred species of eucalyptus trees that grow in Australia, the koala feeds only on twelve, and will only eat leaves at a particular stage of growth.
- Koalas can easily exhaust its’ own supply. Conservationists have to move groups of koalas to areas where food is plentiful.
- The koala has a special digestive system—a long gut— which measures a colossal two metres and is packed with super micro-organisms that detoxify the leaves.
- Koalas tend to smell strongly of eucalyptus and musk. This is thought to discourage fleas and other animals from living in its fur.
- The koala is an excellent swimmer, and may cross rivers in order to escape from heavy flooding in one area.
- A newborn koala is only the size of a broad bean, blind and hairless.
- The young koala spends its first six months inside its mother’s pouch. For the next two or three months it clings to its mother’s fur during the day, returning to the safety of her pouch at night.
The koala mother and her young enjoy a very close relationship. She happily carries her offspring around constantly until it is old enough to be independent.
Location: Lord Street and Roto Place, Port Macquarie NSW 2444, Australia
Port McQuarie has sculptured koalas in its town and long parts of its beaches.
Phone: +61 02 6584 1522
Fax No: +61 02 6584 2399
Opening Hours: Open 7 days a week, with feeding at 3.00pm, closing at 4.30pm.