Visit The Rescued Koalas @ Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie, Australia
Visit one of Australia’s iconic animals at the Koala Hospital!
Travelling down from the east coast of Australia, one of the things we really wanted to see was a koala. If you’re in Australia it’s got to to be done right?! Don’t you just love koalas? Aren’t they the cutest, cuddliest and fluffiest things around?
You can always visit a zoo to see a koala, but that was not what we wanted to do. So instead, whilst researching where to see koalas along the east coast and flicking through all the leaflets we had accumulated during our trip, the koala hospital in Port Macquarie caught our eye. Off we went in our motorhome in search of the koala hospital.
Koalas have lived in Australia for at least 15 million years, the first fossil was found in 1953. - Koala Hospital
There has been such a huge decline of koalas and now one of Australia’s icons is at risk of extinction. It is thought that there could be as few as 43,000 koalas left alive today with the main threat being from habitat loss.
Habitat loss is mainly due to:
- Bush fires – A bush fire can easily kill a koala population if they are living in the bush land.
- Land clearing – The land is usually cleared for housing, forestry, agriculture, roads, factories etc. Clearing of the eucalpyt forests in turn leads to loss of habitat for the koalas and places them at risk from injury/death from cats and dogs and susceptibility to diseases.
- Dieback – Trees gradually die due to, for example, leaching of soil nutrients, defoliation from weather exposure and land degradation.
This is why it is so important to save these cute koalas.
💡 Did you know that Koalas need a quite lot of space to survive as they can eat around two and a half pounds of leaves a day which equates to about a hundred trees per animal.
The Koala Hospital was first established in 1973 and was the first major animal hospital to treat and try to preserve the koalas. The hospital helps treat the sick and injured koalas using the treatment room and the intensive care units, as well as researching various koala diseases. To help with the rehabilitation process for the koalas, there are trees for the koalas to climb in the many rehabilitation yards. There are around 200 volunteers and a few paid staff who provide this valuable work, to help run and maintain the koala hospital.
💡 Did you know that there are around 200 – 250 koalas admitted annually to the hospital?
Why are the koalas admitted to the hospital?
The main reason for admissions are:
- Chlamydia – Chlamydia can affect the eyes and the urogenital tract of the koalas and lead to blindness and death if this is left untreated. Where there is habit loss, the koalas are forced to live in close proximity to each other. The overcrowding and poor nutrition results in a decrease in their immune system which causes the koala to be susceptible to this bacterial disease.
- Dog attacks – Due to loss of habitat the koalas may feed on nearby trees in residential back yards. Household dogs see the back yard as their territory and tend to attack the koalas whenever they see them. The resulting attacks leaves the koalas with horrific injuries both internally and externally.
- Car accidents – The koalas are often hit by cars and run over, if they live in urban areas. This is very traumatic to the koala which leaves them with a long rehabilitation process ahead.
Around 4000 koalas are killed each year by dogs and cars alone - Save The Koala
There are three types of tours available at the hospital. Seeing as we arrived around 1pm, we did a self guided tour and explored the grounds ourselves. It was great to see the hard work done by the hospital and the rehabilitation process for the koalas. As we wandered around reading about each koala, it was so cute to see them sleeping in the trees.
Koalas are nocturnal creatures, so they are asleep during the day and can even sleep up to 18-20 hours a day. These cute little animals do spend a fair amount of time sleeping as their digestion processes use a lot of energy and they also have a low metabolic rate. And it’s not true that the koalas get drunk on gum leaves! Hee Hee 🙂
If you happen to arrive just before 3pm, you can catch the guided tour and watch the koalas being fed. I was a little annoyed that we missed the feeding time but we had to make our way to Hunter Valley. With this tour, the guide will explain why its so important to save the koala population and how they are cared for. The tour is free and available daily.
There are also group tours available from 08:00-13:30 – however these need to be booked in advance and require a minimum of ten people.
Let’s share with you a few koala facts that you may or may not know:
- Koalas are marsupials not bears, meaning they carry their young (aka joeys) in their pouch.
- The word ‘koala’ actually means ‘no drink’ as they get most of the moisture needed from the leaves they consume. The koalas drink water when the moisture falls under 65% in the eucalyptus leaves.
- The koalas have 5 digits on their front paws to help them cling onto the branches.
- Koalas can eat up to 1 kilogram of leaves a night.
- Koalas live in the eucalypt forests in East Australia and are naturally found in the wild in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
- The koalas in South Australia have thicker fur compared to the north, due to the colder winters in the south.
- The life span of a koala is around 10 years.
- Koalas actually smell of eucalyptus, although the mature males have a musty smell because of their scent glands.
- Although koalas’ fur look so soft and cuddly it is however quite woolly.
- Koalas only eat eucalyptus leaves at night
What can we do to help the koalas?
Adopt a koala
How about adopting a wild koala? By adopting a koala, this helps towards the treatment of injured and sick koalas. It also provides and improves public awareness, preserves their habitat and helps towards research. You’ll receive a certificate, biography, information about the koalas and stickers.
The costs for new adoptions is around $60 in Australia and $70 for overseas.
The hospital has 230 acres of land not far from the koala hospital, which is used to harvest leaves to help the sick and injured koalas. The aim of the foundation is to conserve and protect the habitat and save the koalas from extinction.
Plant a tree
Habitat loss is a huge issue for the koalas with the land cleared for housing and agriculture as mentioned above. This makes it difficult to find the eucalyptus leaves to feed the hospitalised koalas. By planting food trees for the koalas, this hopefully helps this issue in the future.
Cost: $15 to plant a food tree
- Entry is free to the Koala Hospital
- Donations are acceptable to help with the work and maintenance of the hospital
- Remember to drive carefully where koala crossings are shown
- Keep the dogs in the house at night
- Help protect the habitat by planting food trees. Examples of food trees include grey Gum, Tallow Wood and Forest Red Gum.
- If you have a swimming pool, attach a rope along the edge, to help the koalas climb out of the pool
This is a great alternative way to see wild koalas and find out how they are rescued and cared for. The hard work of the koala hospital helps save the lives of one of Australia’s precious icons and prevent their extinction. It was amazing to see the koalas and learn more about them.
Don’t forget to stop and visit the hospital if you happen to be in Port Macquarie.
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