In an ongoing series, Koala Hospital, National Geographic travels to Port Macquarie, Australia, a few hours from Sydney, to visit the 40-year-old refuge for wild koalas. Volunteers there are clearly delighted at the chance to frolic with the fluffy marsupials, who cling adorably to tree branches and human legs alike. If you can’t make the trek but you want to contribute, you can adopt a wild koala via the hospital’s website, or help them plant a food tree, to counteract the koalas’ loss of habitat.
Annabelle a Taronga Vet Nurse and surrogate Mum to ‘Beau’, has not seen a puggle at such a young age in over 15 years of caring for sick and injured wildlife at the Zoo. The rarity of seeing an Echidna at this age is due to the habit of the adult females which stash their young in a burrow from about 50 days old. The puggle remains in the burrow for some months, with the female going out to feed, returning every few days to feed it milk.
Both Echidna and Platypus feed their young in an unusual way. Instead of having teats like other mammals, they have milk patches which excrete milk for their young to lap up. This is why Annabelle has to feed Beau from the palm of her hand, so it can lap milk as it would do in the wild. Once feeding, Beau resembles a mini vacuum cleaner, going back and forth making sure every drop of milk is sucked up – contributing to its ever growing belly.