Port Macquarie is quite well known for its amazing scenery and beautiful beaches, but there is also another attraction to see in this area that you will not soon forget. The Koala Hospital, located on the grounds of the Macquarie Nature Reserve and 'Roto House', stunning tourist attractions in their own right, is a bit of a different stop for visitors to Australia.
What's a Koala hospital? Exactly what it sounds like, but with a twist. Koalas are native to Australia, and in recent years their population has been on a decline. The hospital is in place to nurse back to health sick and injured koalas. Injuries happen more often than you would think. A lot of the koala's native habitat has been lost due to urbanisation, and partly due to the residential building that has taken over much of what was once their forest. As a result, many koalas has been displaced with nowhere to go. When they attempt to go back to the only home they knew, they are sometimes injured by dogs or in traffic. A disease called Chlamydia is also frequently seen in koalas. Over 200 koalas come through the hospital yearly. The hospital maintains a 24 hour rescue service so that no koala will ever have to go without care. Once they are completely well, they are released back into the area they were found in.
The Koala Hospital has been in operation since 1973. It is also a research and study centre, working with Sydney University and other wildlife rehab groups, zoos and wildlife researchers to delve deeper into various koala diseases. Volunteers staff the hospital, which is run as a charitable organization. A big fund-raiser for the hospital is the well known Adopt A Wild Koala Program. This, along with kind donations from animal lovers and other activities to raise funds keep the hospital going.
There are ten nicely-sized outdoor yards maintained for these creatures, and eight units inside the building, which are used for Intensive Care Units. The hospital is open year round, 365 days a year, and welcomes visitors at any time of day. There is a tour each afternoon at 3 that is called the "Feed, Walk, and Talk" tour that is incredibly fun and informative.
A volunteer takes groups around outside and introduces them to each resident koala in turn, telling a bit about what brought the animal into the hospital, and what things are being done for them to restore their health. While you are enjoying your tour, you will notice that afternoon volunteers are busily feeding the koalas. Koalas eat several varieties of eucalypt leaves, which are freshly picked from trees for them early each morning. A special truck that lifts the picker high into the trees is used to make things a little easier.
Each morning, the volunteers began caring for the koalas by cleaning their enclosures, feeding them their first meal of the day, and checking on their health status. Food eaten, waste output, and general condition are duly noted. Medical treatment is then given to those in need of it. Koalas are given their medications, any injuries are cleaned and dressed, weighed if needed, and any tests needed such as blood work, cultures, or ultrasound are done at this time. If the inevitable has happened during the night, one or more autopsies will be performed. If any procedure is needed by the animals which can not be performed at the hospital, the koalas are taken to a Veterinary Superintendent practice.
At any time during the day, hospital personnel may be called out to rescue a koala that a kind caller has found, or has seen somewhere. These people are specially trained to do this, and usually have no trouble bringing the injured creatures back to the hospital for assessment. They are examined, and will either be admitted to the hospital, or go to a volunteer private home for a stay. Individual 24 hour attention is possible in a private home, and is exactly what some koala medical cases need.
Another group of volunteers comes to the Koala Hospital in the afternoon. These people prepare any special food needs the koalas may have, wet down the eucalypt leaves, feed the animals, and any other tasks that need doing. The end of the "Feed, Walk and Talk" programme signals the end of hospital work for the day.
You will thoroughly enjoy a visit to the fascinating Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie!