And just like that some of our biggest joeys are off to soft release on the plantation to see how they will go on the way to being completely free and wild.
What is a Soft Release to the Plantation?
Soft release is a safe enclosure and the next step in the journey of a joey with Friends of the Koala after one on one care and Koala Kindy, depending on how old the joey was when he or she came to us. The kids test out their climbing and jumping skills on larger trees, eat all by themselves and deal with natural weather conditions on the plantation. Soft release is our version of dispersion, the time in the life cycle of a joey when mum begins to distance herself. The time when the joey takes the first steps into the big world with mum watching close-by. Eventually they part ways and the young koala carves out a life of their own. Here, at Friends of the Koala, we try to release the koalas to the plantation in pairs, triads or quads as the koalas seem to do better that way – maybe encouraging each other to venture further. Everything is better when shared!
In soft release, we can monitor how the koalas are doing in their new surroundings and whilst most of them will thrive, a small number will return to Koala Kindy and try again at a later stage, some of you might remember Magnus’ story. Following a successful stint in soft release, the koalas are deemed ready for life in the wild and brought to a suitable release site, which as you can imagine, is a very exciting time for us and them.
After seven months with Friends of the Koala, Pikachu is off to the next stage of her journey and plantation. She has come a long way from the base of the tree where she was found abandoned and malnourished. She was very weak, dehydrated and her body condition was low – we really weren’t sure if she would make it. But thanks to Liz, her wonderful home carer and the attention of our vet team, Pikachu grew strong enough for Koala Kindy. Despite their vulnerability, some koalas are rather resilient.
Frankie is also ready and off to plantation. She had a few weeks of systemic anti-fungal treatment for a skin infection which is now under control and if there are no flare-ups, she too should be ready for release along with Pikachu. Frankie, you may remember was rescued back in July and we believe she may have fallen off her mums back and out of a tree. Frankie had a number of minor injuries but was otherwise in great health and has thrived at Friends of the Koala.
8 Mile – aka Mr. Chonk – is also ready and off to soft release with Pikachu and Frankie. 8 Mile, you might have noticed, has some mild staining under his eyes but tests are negative for infection so we will continue to monitor him in plantation – he is healthy, strong and ready! 8 Mile’s journey with Friends of the Koala, began last August when his mum was hit by a car and killed. 8 Mile suffered some head trauma but recovered well thanks to our koala carers and vet team.
We had only just introduced you to Panko and already he is off to soft release. Compared to most other joeys at Friends of the Koala his stay was very brief which is a good thing of course! Panko showed a lot of confidence of all four joeys in the run and raced up to the top of the tree without looking back. We think he will do just fine!
Minnie May has passed her recent check-up with flying colours and has been given all the bling needed to get her ready for plantation. She won’t be leaving just yet but will be buddied up with some of the other joeys very soon. Minnie May was a tiny 700g when she arrived at Friends of the Koala, her mum unfortunately didn’t survive a severe leg wound. Minnie May thrived in home care and it didn’t take long before she joined the others in Koala Kindy.
Boorie, whilst he has caught up (nearly) in size with the other big joeys, we think we will hold off on his soft release until Nimbus is ready to buddy up with him. Our vets are keeping an eye on a mild fungal infection on his thumb that seems to be under control. Boorie was a back-young joey who arrived at Friends of the Koala with his mum Gidja who presented with a head trauma – probably due to a car collision. Gidja recovered well but stopped producing milk in care, which meant Boorie couldn’t be released with her and we stepped in.
Nimbus is our smallest joey in Koala Kindy and was separated from mum after it was suspected she was hit by a car. He has been putting on weight and has recovered well from mild dehydration and shock. He loves his milk and has been seen cuddling with Pikachu and Panko – he will have some new friends soon!
Baby Bear arrived at Friends of the Koala in early November with his mum Nanna Bear who unfortunately was very ill and did’n’t surive.
Baby Bear is about the age a joey should be dispersing from mum, he is healthy, has been gaining weight and joined the other joeys in Koala Kindy. Baby Bear will probably head out to plantation with Nimbus, Boorie and Minnie May soon.
This little joey was found wandering around on the ground without his mum when Friends of the Koala Rescue Hotline was called. Once at the hospital it was discovered that Nightshade was profoundly anemic with the most likely cause being an overwhelming tick burden. While it is normal for koalas to have ticks, sometimes the joeys cannot cope with the huge number that are around at this time of the year. He received a blood transfusion and some medication to kill the ticks that we couldn’t find easily. We could tell from Nightshade’s bone marrow results that he is well on the way to recovery.
Johnny and Hip Hop
Johnny and Hip Hop who, until recently, were our dinkiest joeys in home care are ready for Koala Kindy! Now, that Pikachu, Frankie and Panko are off to plantation there is room for these two cuties to have their next adventure. Over the past few months, our amazing Liz has nursed them 24/7 like their mums would have to get them to where they are now – they are two very lucky boys!
When Emerson arrived at Friends of the Koala he had a few injuries that suggested his mum might have been in a fight. His right arm and back were injured and he has developed an unusual skin infection which has been both aggressive and unresponsive to early treatments. This has meant that little Emerson has needed regular dressing changes and wound care under anaesthetic every second day for a few weeks but amazingly he is still putting on weight despite all the fuss. He is a tough little guy and started on a new antifungal treatment this week. It already looks like it is starting to work – fingers crossed for him.
Brown Sugar is a young female joey who was initially rescued with her mum and taken to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. Sadly her mum didn’t make it and Brown Sugar is now with Friends of the Koala and doing well in home care with Dale. Weighing around 1kg and having already put on 500g Brown Sugar has been coming to Koala Kindy for day visits and it won’t be long until she is here full time.
Cygnet is a female joey of about eight months who was separated from her mum Swan when she feel from her back up a very high tree. Cygnet must be quite plastic because she managed to avoid serious injury in the fall. It has however taken several days for our rescuers to locate and rescue Swan and successfully reunite the pair. Cygnet should still be taking milk from her mum so we are monitoring her weight and if Swan stops producing, we may need to keep them longer and supplement Cygnet until she is old enough to leave mum.
Did you know we have a YouTube account where you can view videos of some of the koalas in our care, koala releases and more? Check it out and if you love reading all about our joeys then perhaps a subscription to Joey Buddies would be for you, also don’t forget our 2024 koala calendars are now ready for your FREE download – claim yours now! It’s our way of saying thank you for your support!