Do you want to experience the most unique moment in a lifetime by taking care of rescued animals and bottle-feeding orphan koala joeys in Australia? If so, here is all you need to know to be able to cross out this amazing experience off your bucket list!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What about koalas?
Koalas are surely one of the most famous animals in Australia and also one of its native species. We can easily recognize them with their large round head, big black nose, and sharp claws. This marsupial’s diet is 100% made of a variety of eucalyptus leaves and can even eat up to a kilogram per day! The advantage of this food is that leaves contain about 50% of water, so most of the time koalas don’t need to climb down the tree to find water. In addition, these koala bears have very poor eyesight and have to rely on their other senses like hearing to detect predators. Finally, they can sleep up to 20 hours per day. Crazy, right?
Baby koalas, usually called Joeys, develop in their mother pouch for about six months. Afterward, they stay another six months on the back of their mother and use the pouch only to eat and sleep. On average, koalas live for about 10 to 12 years in the wild.
Unfortunately, koalas are currently close to extinction. Indeed, their population is losing their home notably due to deforestation. In addition to that, koalas face others dangers in their daily life such as bushfires, wild dog attacks, car accidents, and chlamydia disease. As a result, their number is on the decline and they have been classified as an endangered species. Speaking of bushfires, we can all remember the most devastating fires the country has ever faced in 2020. For months, the land had burnt and tragically 61’000 koalas were impacted or died during this tragedy.
Where to see koala joeys in australia?
Alright, so as mentioned before, the koala is one of the symbols of the country. Surprisingly (and unfortunately), they are not everywhere on the continent. In other words, wild koalas can only be found in the Southeastern and Eastern parts of Australia. That is to say, the following states are to be preferred if you want to spot wild koalas: South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.
Our experience of bottle feeding koala joeys
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park allowed us to see the behind-the-scenes of a sanctuary. Our visit took place right after the terrible bushfires of 2020, which burnt hectares of land. We could see its remains while crossing Kangaroo island.
Since forever, Damien and I are animal lovers, the reason why the main goal of our first visit to Australia was to encounter native wildlife. Therefore, we booked a private tour with Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to meet protected and rescued animals with one of the owners, Sam.
Immediately once we met Sam, he asked us what was our goal during this visit and what we want to learn. We clearly explained to him that we had followed the deadly bushfires from home and that we would feel grateful if we could say hi to the rescued animals. Thus, he directly brought us to the koala hospital (which has been constructed in an emergency during the fires), located next to the park.
My heart was so full of sadness, joy, and love altogether. Indeed, it was heartbreaking to see those injured creatures but I was glad they had found a safe home here. There were so many of them: some inside cages due to their important injuries, others outside in a protected area. The owner told us that they were trying to build more places for them.
After this emotional koalas hospital tour, we jumped into a quad and headed up to the forest in the back of the park. We saw two koalas who had been released after they were treated in the center. It was so amazing to see them being in good shape again in their natural habitat. We learned that one of the park’s future goals was to plant eucalyptus trees to create a new home for koalas.
While we were going back to the shelter, Sam asked us if we were, by any chance, interested in bottle-feeding orphan koalas. I was like “did I understand correctly?” We said one big yes without hesitation! This is why, we entered the small building behind the hospital and then, we saw two huge soft cages filled with many joeys. The babies were so little and fragile, they all lost their mum in the fires. I think I couldn’t stop crying, it was so many emotions all at once.
We sat on a couch and then Sam gave us one koala each. I had the chance to bottle-feed, Maddie (a female), and Damien Ash (a reference to the fires). I had never held such a small animal in my life and at that time I felt that I had no right to abandon her, she was counting on me.
We only gave them one meal but it was one of the happiest days of our life… We were finally useful and were able to give them some comfort.
“This experience opened my eyes to several things, notably the fact that I want to volunteer at the Koala hospital at Port Macquarie. Unfortunately, they are not taking any applications until 2023, so I need to be patient. But I’m sure I will be there someday. This is the place I want to be at.“
To summarize, if you are an animal lover and want to help as much as you can, you should visit Australia. Indeed, their wildlife is so unique and precious that you will for sure have a phenomenal time over there!
That is to say, I’m so happy to have shared our amazing time in Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park and I hope I have inspired you to volunteer someday to take care of any animals in need or danger. Indeed, Australia is home to numerous animal shelters, read all details here.
Finally, feel free to reach out to me at any time, if you have any questions. It would be a great pleasure to share with you!
Sending you lots of love,