Our final free day began early this morning. We hopped in a taxi and traveled to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This sanctuary is not only the World’s first koala sanctuary but also the largest. It is famous for housing the oldest living koala of 23 years (koalas typically only live for 6-8 years).
The sanctuary quickly became one of the most memorable excursions on this study abroad trip. We couldn’t travel all this way without getting to hold a koala!
After sitting through a koala keeper talk we learned that these “bears” are not actually bears, they are marsupials. Marsupials are a special kind of mammal in which they give birth to live young that must crawl into their mother’s pouch. All marsupial babies are called “joeys”- not just kangaroos! Koalas eat eucalyptus trees which are poisonous to every other animal. However these fascinating creatures are not born immune to the poisons, mom helps baby to become resistant to the toxins by continuously exposing the joey to the toxins. We learned that koalas are very picky eaters. While there are over 700 species of eucalyptus trees, koalas will only eat 15 species of eucalyptus trees. Because of their slow metabolic rates the koalas will sleep 18-22 hours a day. While we were holding them they would cling to us and go right to sleep!
After holding the koalas we went to hang out with a mob of kangaroos.
Kangaroos are crepuscular animals meaning they are more active at dawn and dusk. We witnessed this phenomenon by going to their exhibit early in the morning. The kangaroos were hopping around earlier in the day as opposed to in the afternoon when they were sunbathing. These guys let us sit next to them, pet and feed them (pictured above) which is very different from what we would expect to see from kangaroos in the wild. Kangaroos are typically much more weary of human contact and are more easily provoked. When they feel threatened, they will grab onto the attacker with their long claws and then kick with incredible strength.
Other animals at the sanctuary included, many different species of birds, reptiles, dingos, wombats, Tasmanian devils and platoipi.
- Dingos are the largest carnivore in Australia
- Tasmanian devils are the only carnivorous marsupials left in the world and are seriously threatened by cancerous facial tumors
- Platoipi and enchidas are special kinds of mammals that lay eggs
- Wombats can run up to 25 mph despite their unusually short legs
(Yes this is a wombat!)
Visiting the sanctuary was the perfect way to wrap up our free weekend. Getting to spend time and learn about the indigenous species of Australia really has made us excited for our rainforest adventures to come!
By: Megan Bolger and Chrissy Panagos