Caught the bus on time again. The weather was beautiful. It was going to be an amazing day. Two of the other volunteers caught the same bus as me – Ronna and Iris. We got to the staff room at 8.00 AM and settled down with some hot chocolate. At 8.45, it was time to hear our assignments for the day. Iris and I were assigned to koalas! We were so happy
. The first task we were given was to clean the ledges – I took the koala ledges while Iris took the sanctuary ledges. So, she had to scrape turkey poo off the ledges around the whole sanctuary while I just sprayed lemon water on the ledges around the koala enclosures. The lemon water was to mask the natural smell of the male koalas that some people found offensive. Either I’m not smelling the right thing or I’m a koala at heart because I find their musky scent quite nice.
Next, we had to scrub all the trees and branches in two enclosures with a solution of SaniClean for disinfection. We then rinsed everything off with some plain water. The koalas remained in the enclosures as we cleaned so we just had to coax them to move if they were in a spot we needed to get to. They were so adorable! Some walked backwards while others just stared blankly, not wanting to move.
When we were almost done with the second enclosure, one of the other koala keepers, Alison, asked me to help her clean bins. These ‘wheelie bins’ were used to bring fresh eucalyptus branches to each of the koala enclosures and so there were about 30 of them. We had to empty the water and leaves in them first. I then hosed them down following which Alison scrubbed them up with detergent and then I hosed them down again. I was soaking wet at the end of it all.
I took my 20 minute break at the Sleepy Koala Cafe and then headed back. Alison was just about done with the bins. So, I headed back to the main Koala enclosures and waited around for some work. Since most of the keepers were busy with the photography session, we were told we didn’t have much to do. So, Iris and I decided to walk around the sanctuary and take some pictures. But, before we decided which way to head, Simone, a keeper, had a new task for us. She wanted us to rake up the dry leaves from one of the areas and then use them to pretty-up some koala enclosures. After that, we were asked to stand watch over an enclosure with male koalas as many tourists were leaning over the ledges and trying to touch them and some others were irritating them with flash photography. We managed to educate some of the passing crowd and then we headed ff for lunch. We took an hour off and caught up with the other ‘volies’ (voluteers – Aussies LOVE to shorten words).
Post lunch, we hung around he koala enclosures and did some more raking and gathering of leaves. It was a good team activity trying to balance a large pile of leaves on two rakes and transfer it into the bin. Good times. After beautifying another enclosure, it was time to head home. We caught the bus to the Cultural Centre station and then I got the Gold Coast line train from the South Brisbane station. The gorgeous weather added much to the awesomeness of the day.
I caught the bus on time and was pretty pleased with myself. Federica, a volunteer from Italy that I’d met yesterday, got on at the next stop. We chatted most of the way which was a nice change from trying to find a good position to nod off. We got to the lunch room at 8.05 which gave us almost half an hour to do whatever we wanted. So, we walked around the sanctuary taking in all the sights and sounds – the kookaburras were laughing and the cockatoos screeched as we passed them by.
I was assigned birds for the day which meant I would be assisting the birds’ keeper. My partner for the day was Sadie – an American girls who was volunteering as part of work experience for the undergraduate.
We started off by cleaning the bird enclosures – picking up sand that was pooed on, scrubbing clean rocks with the same etc. We also changed their waters and raked the sand to make it look pretty. Although I was apprehensive of entering the red-tailed black cockatoo’s enclosure, I did (cautiously) and he didn’t seem to mind. He just sat in one corner and watched me, making sure I didn’t get too close to the nesting box. After an hour or so of cleaning enclosures, we were asked to prepare food for the emus and cassowary. They got a variety of fruits, some leafy greens and mineral supplements. We made enough for 3 feeds – afternoon, evening and next morning. We got to take our break amidst the feed preparation. At around 11.00 AM, it was time to clear away the morning feed bowls from the birds’ enclosures and give them some grain. The grain was a measured mix of parrot feed and finch feed depending on the bird species. Back in the feed shed, Sadie was still preparing the emu food. I helped her with that and then we got on to make the cassowary food which was about three servings of 2.1 kg of fresh fruit chopped up to the appropriate size and sprinkled with mineral supplements.
After that, we took the mulch out of the large enclosure of the red-tailed black cockatoo. We then laid out the prepared feed for the cassowary and emus. The emus were surprisingly friendly and very cute! One of them had lost one of her eyes. The theory was fire cracker damage.
We then got to hand feed the Tawny Frog-mouths. We fed them bits of chopped up day-old chicks. Since the tawny frog-mouths are nocturnal birds, they were pretty unenthusiastic and sluggish. One even just sat with it’s mouth open with the chick body in it, not bothering to swallow it.
The Coucal Pheasant who was on display had a bit of arthritis and hence her cockroach feed was impregnated with pain relieving medication.