Marley, a recently qualified vet nurse, is rescue coordinator for Friends of the Koala in Lismore and was home carer (read: surrogate mum) to Triumph – a joey born without a foot. Both roles demand time, dedication and strength in very large doses.
”I’ve done hundreds of rescues with Friends of the Koala but at first, I was getting leaf.
Koalas eat about 600 grams a day from a very limited selection of trees, and it’s an important job. It can be hard to identify the right leaf and here koalas mainly eat forest redgum, swamp mahogany and tallowwood. They’re fussy about which leaves they eat too and will smell a leaf and pick it, but not pick others from the same branch.
Next, I started going along to rescues which can be tough. It’s very draining seeing animals in distress and taking them to the vet where they are often put down. But, the successful rescues make up for it.
Rehabilitating and releasing koalas back into the wild is not only healing for them. I started working with koalas at a difficult time in my life and it’s helped me transform personally and professionally. Koalas are so soul healing, and I became a Vet Nurse to help koalas.
I have cared for Triumph since he was baby joey. He lost his mum to disease, was missing a foot which is congenital and overcame death several times, so I named him Triumph.
We were called to rescue a sick female found on the ground. She was emaciated, brown and diseased. I looked up, and high in a forest redgum was a little, grey ball of fluff. It was a miracle I saw him. We waited 5 long days to see if he would come down, and in the end called a tree climber to get him.
As a home carer, when you’re sound asleep, joeys come alive and want to play. I’d wake up to a ‘kathomp, kathomp, kathomp’ of Triumph coming across the floor to climb up onto my head and play. They like to be high, so it was his favourite spot to sit.
Triumph is two and a half years old now and doing well. He’s not releasable because he can’t jump down from trees, and we’re hoping to keep him as a Koala Ambassador.
It worries me that Australians take koalas for granted. At first you don’t recognise one from the other, but when you work with them you realise they are all very different. They are individuals with personalities.”