After eight months of living down under, my childhood dreams have finally been fulfilled. I cuddled a koala and can now die a happy girl.Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary offers a more unique experience than zoos and wildlife parks where you find yourself looking through glass or bars. You are able to get up close and personal with 95 species of Australian animals. Koalas, kangaroos, platypus, wallabies, emus, cassowaries, wombats, crocodiles and more!Queensland is the only state where it is legal to hold a koala. It is free to hold and just $18 for a picture, which you get a printed + e-copy, and are allowed to have your friend snap photos of your experience too!Lone Pine’s 130 koalas live in different homes around the sanctuary, according to their age and gender. “Boys” (teenagers), the “Kindergarten” (toddlers) and the “Retirement Home” where the oldies go for a more quiet and relaxed lifestyle.As sleep experts, these critters sure know the best positions and poses; some almost look like contortionists as they twist and turn in their sleep.The Lone Pine sanctuary was created to help preserve Australian wildlife and I was impressed with the care and attention the animals were given. The koalas can only be handled for 30mins per day and get every third day off. You can also hold a snake, an owl or an eagle and handfeed kangaroos and wallabies in the reserve (more on that in my next post!)Lone Pine proudly boasts a Top 10 Zoos in the World ranking and for obvious reasons. Another great feature for visitors is free wifi throughout the park, so you can instagram your kangaroo selfies and koala cuddles instantly!When you think about it, koalas lead a pretty rough life. They get to sleep 19 hours a day, and eat their way through the other five. But in reality, out in the wild, they have to contend with dog attacks, bushfires, motor vehicles, falling out of trees and habitat destruction by humans. It’s no wonder koalas are stressed and vulnerable to chlamydia and retroviruses.
Did you know?
- Despite their stoner reputation, koala’s are not drunk and lazy. Eucalyptus leaves are fibrous and low in nutrition. Koalas have adapted to their low energy diet by sleeping and for 18 to 20 hours a day and have a slow metabolic rate to retain food in their digestive system to maximise the amount of energy that can be extracted.
- Koalas have a short gestation period of 33 to 35 days. At birth, a joey weighs less than one gram and looks like a pink jellybean. It is born blind and will still only be one cm at a month old. The joey will instinctually climb into the mother’s pouch and begins to emerge at six months.
- At eight months joeys are called ‘back young’ as they are too big for the pouch and will ride around on the mother’s back instead. At 12 months joeys are completely weaned and independent.
- Koalas are marsupials, and not in fact bears at all.
- The koala might look cuddly and cute but have sharp teeth and claws.
- Full grown koala weighs 15 to 30 pounds and live for 20+ years.
- The koala can run as fast as a rabbit.
- Koalas communicate by making a deep growling sound called a ‘bellow’ that sounds oddly like a dinosaur. This is used by males to attract females and intimidate other males in the area.
- Koalas are born with Chlamydia, but not as an STD like in humans. It can turn their booties orange and leave them blind and infertile if left uncontrolled (as in the wild). Some have even been found to have AIDS.
We better let these guys get back to what they do best- good night!
I can guarantee you will fall in love with these critters at Lone Pine as I did. Stay tuned next week as I share my experience with the kangaroos and emus!