From relentless drought to destructive fires to flooding rains, over the many months of summer our community, our wildlife and your much loved koalas have experienced it all. Some forests around Australia have started their natural process of regeneration – while others have been devastated to the extent that they may not recover at all.
Through your generosity and kindness, Port Stephens Koalas (PSK) has been humbled by the warm response we have received from around Australia and all over the world. It is for this reason that we can keep working so hard – fired up by your contributions, both financial and emotional, shared with us during Australia’s crisis. We are working tirelessly to ensure that the koala does not end up another extinction statistic like the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger). Current State and Commonwealth Government classification of the koala as ‘vulnerable’ was always inadequate – but all the more so now, when we have lost so many.
Wildlife organisations across Australia are insisting that koalas be listed as an ‘endangered’ species. Governments at all levels have an obligation to provide better protection for koalas and halt the unnecessary and illegal clearing of forests.
Our first release of the year – Alana Hall races off to freedom!
Your Wild Koalas
With such a sad start to 2020 across Australia, we were glad to bring you some happy news. Alana Hall was only with us for a few months while her eyes were being treated for conjunctivitis. In mid January, our veterinary koala specialist checked her over and was satisfied that her eyes were clear – it was time for her to be released. Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, it is important for koalas to be returned to the same area they were found so they can re-establish themselves in familiar territory and be part of the original ‘koala hub’, or an area of local koala significance.
You can see from the image above how keen and quick Alana Hall was to get up that tree and she soon started eating the leaves from the Eucalyptus robusta (swamp mahogany). The other image shows her at the sanctuary prior to her release – enjoy seeing that cute face for the last time!
Alana Hall’s release is great news for our organisation as we strive to return as many koalas in care back to the wild as soon as they are deemed fit.
Young Brandy Hill ‘Blondie’ Denise was the victim of a vicious dog attack which left her with both arms badly bitten. Blondie was very traumatised and one of her arms was in a cast for many weeks to reset the injury. An infection from the dog bites has been causing ongoing problems but recently the drain in her arm was removed which is a good sign.
Blondie is examined regularly at the vet’s surgery and is receiving the best care from our most experienced and dedicated home carers. As you can see in the photo, she has a special mobile pod so she can be outside in the fresh air as much as possible. Her appetite is improving and we are hoping for the best possible outcome for this beautiful girl.
Clarence came into care with a bad chlamydia infection which had caused severe damage to his eyes resulting in very poor vision. He spent some time being treated in home care before being moved into his own outdoor enclosure at our sanctuary where his carefully placed logs are designed to encourage confidence over different surfaces.
Clarence is a quiet koala and it is our utmost priority to minimise potential stress. He is quite adept at climbing up his logs and sitting comfortably wherever he likes and is rather partial to the fresh tasty tips of the Eucalyptus robusta (swamp mahogany), though he also eats leaves from E. tereticornis (forest red gum).
Last month, it was assessed that Patu, Eila’s offspring, was becoming more independent and it was time for him to leave his mother. As it turned out, it was Eila who moved out of their original yard and into the adjoining share house with Joanie and Maree.
The three girls appear to get along OK and each have their favourite spot to sit, either on the log undercover or up in the trees. Due to the burns Eila sustained to her paws, she has been unable to climb very high …… until now. Just last week, we caught her napping right near the top of one of the tallest trees in her yard. It’s a bit early to be sure, but it appears that her climbing capabilities are returning, what great news!
Jax came into our care after a car hit him and left him with a broken femur. After 10 weeks in homecare and a few setbacks, Jax had his plaster removed and in January he was transferred to an enclosure at our sanctuary for the next phase of his treatment and rehabilitation. He is getting used to his new surroundings and making steady progress. We look forward to seeing improvements in his wellbeing – he still has some way to go.
Jax is quiet and reserved during the day but apparently at dusk he starts off the bellowing competition with the other male koalas nearby. The yards have security cameras operating – which is how we know what they get up to at night!
It was very sad for everyone to accept that Joanie’s eyesight was not going to improve and that she would never be returned to the wild. However this does not deter Joanie from climbing the familiar branches in her spacious yard and she is often seen sleeping high in the trees.
Sharing with Joanie are two other females, Maree and Eila. As you can see in this video, Joanie and Maree have a mutual understanding, possibly even a friendship – though we mustn’t be anthropomorphic about koala relationships!
When it’s time for your kids to leave home, there can be some mixed reactions. In the case of Patu, he appears to have accepted the separation from his mum Eila quite well. He is growing into the typical koala – expending very little energy, mostly sleeping and eating. Koalas spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping with the remainder spent eating, socialising and grooming. In Patu’s case, we reckon he spends more than just an hour or two a day eating – his favourite leaves are from the Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta) though he is rather partial to some Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis).
However Patu is not alone in his large yard. Another youngster called Tilly arrived before Christmas.
Patu and Tilly (pictured below) are housed in a large yard under what is called a dehumanisation process. As they are being prepared for release to the wild, contact with volunteers has to be minimised. This means there is to be no eye contact with them and definitely no touching. Supplementary leaves are placed in the pots quickly, water is replaced and the support carer spends as little time as possible in this yard.
Maree was hit by a car and despite the injury to her head and subsequent blindness, she started following Joanie’s scent up the trees and now is so active in their yard that she is sometimes seen pushing past Joanie on her way to climb even higher. This indicates that since moving in with Joanie, Maree has gained confidence and it is heartening to see that climbing high is now the norm for her.
Following a downpour, you can see in this video a very wet Eila tucking in – while in the background Maree is ‘racing down’ the tree backwards (as koalas do) to get there before Eila eats all the best leaves! Now the rain has finally arrived, we are hoping that there will be a good supply of their favourite gum leaves in the coming weeks.
Solstice is starting to climb again! Having been in very bad shape after being hit by a car, his long journey of healing is progressing. With pins and rods in his arm, his hand is a bit floppy – like it’s not really associated with the rest of his arm – but he’s learning how to make it do what he wants. The vet has helped him with specialised physio and laser treatment.
We often hear Solstice before we see him high in the trees, especially in the afternoons. This is what he sounds like …
For a time he wasn’t allowed to climb trees as his claws were damaged, but they’re healed now and at the end of August, we took down the guards from his tree. It took him a little while to know he could now climb and when he realised he could – he did! At first he went up the small Angophora costata (smooth-barked apple) and as his confidence grew, moved to the bigger tree in his enclosure, slowly climbing higher and higher. Now he goes right to the top and is a fluffy butt up the tree. He turns his face to the wind, puffs up the fur in his ears and enjoys the sensation.
Solstice was caught hanging off a branch last week. A great sign that his arm is doing much better and gaining strength. In fact, his climbing skills are such that he managed to get into one of the girl’s yards but was reluctantly taken back to his own by the carers!
Tai is a handsome male koala who is blind and so will remain with us in permanent care for the rest of his life. Despite his lack of sight, he is a good climber and is often seen up the tallest tree in his yard. Tai’s yard is by the entrance gate and so it’s lovely in the mornings when the volunteers arrive to be greeted by the vision of Tai lazing in his favourite spot.
Tai has an issue with drool (he dribbles) when he eats leaves, more so than the others. We’re not sure why this is, it could be due to some neurological issues – but the drooling is not too much of a problem. If he’s down by the leaf pots, we wipe his chin and he doesn’t seem to mind.
Being an old boy, Tolley doesn’t move as well as he used to and has good and bad days. Sometimes he throws us a curly as to how he’s doing – being fine one day, and poorly the next. He’s had some recent tummy issues which now seem to be rectified and he’s on supplementary feeds to boost up his nutrition. He’s doing well. He loves his leaf. And sleeping!
Last week when we had cooler and wetter conditions, Tolley was quite active and was keen to see what new leaves were being brought in for him. He climbed from one spot to another in search of his favourites. However, on hotter days, Tolley tends to sit on the ground leaning on the paperback log and doesn’t have much appetite or patience. Age catches up with all of us!
As you can see, several of our koalas have ended up in care after road accidents. Please watch out for all wildlife while you are driving – especially at dawn and dusk when not just koalas but many native animals are most active. Although some people consider them nocturnal, koalas are also crepuscular meaning they are active at dawn and dusk. In fact, they can also be on the move during the day too.
I would like to ‘Adopt a Koala‘
PSK responds to the koala crisis
The PSK facility at Treescape in One Mile, Port Stephens was fortunate not to have suffered any direct impact of the fires. We owe a great deal to our local fire brigades and the aerial water bombing that took place on several occasions from fires which started across the other side of Gan Gan Road. Volunteers continued to work despite the smoke and were prepared in case an evacuation was called – but thankfully it was not required.
The other unsung heroes are the home carers who spend 24/7 looking after the sickest animals. Following the fires on the mid-north coast they took in additional koalas to help out their colleagues, Koalas in Care, from the Taree area who had suffered extensive fire destruction to their local forests and had rescued dozens of koalas. Smoulder is one of these fire victims, he is making a good recovery and should soon be ready for release.
The cooperation between PSK and neighbouring koala groups has been collaborative throughout this crisis. These relationships will continue to grow as we share each other’s knowledge and experience of dealing with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild koalas.
PSK also has a number of koalas who are not featured on the website or currently available for ‘adoption’. Their reasons for being in care range from severe dehydration to conjunctivitis and chlamydia to vehicle collision injuries and dog attacks. These constitute the most common threats to koalas, all of which are exacerbated by habitat loss and urban expansion. We are very fortunate to have our local veterinarian team at hand which specialises in the treatment of koalas and ensures the highest standard of care is applied by all trained volunteers.
Enough about koalas – what about you, our wonderful supporters?!! We have received special stories about special people around the world – too many to thank individually but you know who you are!
We have heard about children giving up their birthday money, our local oncology radiologists making and selling nursing scrubs, surf lifesaving nippers, primary schools all with astounding and unusual fundraising ideas. There were families directly impacted by the fires and unable to go shopping, doing their Christmas shopping online with us instead!
We have also heard from many people around the world – in countries which have responded generously to Australia’s crisis. USA and UK lead the tally but small countries like Luxembourg, Belgium and Jordan have opened their hearts in huge numbers.
Some supporters have gone as far as donating monthly – we thank you very much for your continued interest.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’s):
Can I visit the koalas?
Not currently. Our koalas in care are in private yards and under our permit, only their carers are allowed in. However later in the year, the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary will be opening and some of our permanent residents might be moved into new display yards where visitors can see them.
Can I continue contributing to all or some koalas?
Yes of course. You can either take out further adoptions @$50 or you can set up a one off or recurring payment here: https://portstephenskoalas.com.au/product/donate/
Can I take my adopted koala home?
No definitely not! This is a symbolic ‘adoption’ of a wild koala. Your support is contributing to the costs of treatment and care of each koala in our sanctuary. These koalas are wild animals and are being rehabilitated, where possible, for return to the wild.
How long does it take to receive my e-certificate?
Our aim is to email them to you within 48 hours, however during busy periods it may take a day or two longer. Also, check your spam folder before contacting us!
If you did not receive an automated confirmation of your order, it is most likely your email address was entered incorrectly and you will not receive a certificate either. So please always enter your email address accurately.
Why have I only received one e-certificate when I adopted 2 koalas?
If ordering multiple adoptions, your certificates might not arrive together as they are prepared manually by different volunteers.
When will I receive the next update about my adopted koala?
Updates are quarterly – March, June, September, December
Port Stephens Koalas aims to provide the world best practice standards of care to sick, injured and orphaned koalas to give them the best opportunity to be returned to the wild, while supporting research and collaboration to preserve their habitat to ensure that future generations may continue to enjoy seeing wildlife in their natural setting.