Being a surrogate mother for orphaned koala joeys takes time, patience and the ability to run on little to no sleep. That’s a reality for koala carer Clare, who sees the impacts of excessive tree-clearing first-hand.
WWF and RSPCA have joined forces in a new report that highlights just how many of our species, like koalas, are under threat in Queensland from excessive tree-clearing.
Add your voice now to help secure habitat for these koala joeys.
Caring for young koalas is a 24 hour, 7 day a week job. Days don’t begin and end, they just roll on.
Clare tests the the milk to ensure it’s not too hot for young Sydney. His mother was hit and killed by a car. Excessive tree-clearing means koalas are having to travel further and further to find food, putting them at risk of being hit by cars or attacked by dogs.
Clare says koala joeys are the hardest Australian species to hand raise and care for, as they’re very fussy eaters.
When hand raising young animals moments of peace like this are extremely rare. Clare says that joeys usually decide that 2 am is playtime.
Zuko is a few months older than Sydney, and is already seeking a bit more independence. When he’s ready, he’ll go into a soft release program that will prepare him for release back to the wild.
Koalas are expert climbers and love being up high, so furniture becomes fair game.
A homemade koala playground sits in the living room, giving the young joeys somewhere to climb and sleep when they’re not exploring on the couch.
This joey is very young, so feeding time is usually every 3 - 4 hours, day and night. She was found alone in a paddock covered in cow faeces. It’s likely that her mother was trying to cross the open field looking for food and shelter.
Clare says koala joeys are very trusting and curious animals. Each joey she has cared for and raised has had a different personality. Clare manages Return to the Wild Inc. based in southeast Queensland. She has provided rescue, trauma care, hand rearing and rehabilitation of koalas, wombats and other Australian wildlife for over 30 years.
When a koala is old enough to be returned to the wild, they must be released back to the area where they were originally found. Clare is worried for the future of these young joeys as excessive tree-clearing means there may no nowhere for them to go.
Clare puts a young joey down for a rest after her feed.
Joeys hold on to their mother for safety and security, so often stuffed toys like Mr Monkey have to step in to play the role as surrogate mother when orphans this young come into care.