As you may have guessed from the web address of this blog, I wanted to hug a koala before I even got to Australia. When we were planning her visit, Amanda and I were very excited about the prospect of hugging koalas together! Then, we found out that, unfortunately, it is illegal to hold koalas in Victoria (the state in which we live). Victoria is so large that we knew we wouldn’t be leaving while Amanda was here. We got over our disappointment and were just as excited when we got to see real, live koalas in the wild.
When I found out that we were going to Queensland (the state of which Brisbane is the capital), I did some research and found out that you can hold koalas there! I was a little unsure if I still wanted to do it, since I figured that it was probably illegal for a reason. But I found the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, and read that the koalas only “work” twice a week for 1/2 hour each time, so I figured that sounded good. And the sanctuary does a lot of research and conservation for the koalas.
Sunday afternoon we left the Hinterland and were off to see the koalas!
To hold the koalas, you pay to have your photo taken with them. As we stood in line, we watched the handlers and the koalas. There were 3-4 handlers and koalas. The handler would give some instructions to the waiting tourist about jhow hold the koala, give the koala a bite of eucalyptus, and transfer the koala over to the tourist. Each person held their koala for a few minutes while their picture was taken and whoever was with you was allowed to also take some photos as well. As we watched the koala cuddling, we had our eye on one cubbly looking guy who seemed very content and laid-back. He seemed to almost fall asleep in the arms of whoever held him. Josh and I agreed that we hoped he would be our koala. When it was my turn, I stepped over to the handler who introduced me to the koala and showed me how to place my hands. She tranfered the koala to me but she was very uninterested in me and very, very interested in her eucalyptus!
The handler apologized and said that koala’s time was almost up and she was getting hungry. She asked me to wait while she got another one. I was thrilled. TWO koalas to hug! The next koala, also a female, was again more interested in the euclaypus and kind of grabbed at me in a way the handler didn’t like, so she took her back and asked me wait for the next available koala. I was excited to hold a third, and even more excited when I saw that it was the one Josh and I had our eye on–Fitzy!
Fitzroy was so sweet and cuddly. It was all over very fast, though, and then it was Josh’s turn! He acted like he wasn’t that excited about it beforehand, but I think he and Fitzy had a real bond.
They became fast friends!
The park had other Australian wildlife as well as many areas where you could see the koalas up close. We saw a Tasmanian devil, 3 wombats, and spent a lot of time at the “mums and babes” koala area. A picture is really worth a thousand words when it comes to wildlife!
The tassie devil is so cute in real life!
I think wombats are adorable too, but I’ve heard they can bite!
Koalas remain my favorite, though…