Walking through the gift shop I was surrounded by koalas. Soft cuddly toy koalas, koala t-shirts, koala books and koala key chains. The walls were covered in framed portraits of known faces such as hair dye lover Hayley Williams, kung-fu expert Jackie Chan and relationship addict Taylor Swift. They were all holding a koala. I purchased a ticket for my chance to join them.
Angela and I made our way to the photograph area and joined the queue, waiting for my chance to cuddle one. We were in Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, one of the few places in the world you are actually allowed to hold a koala. As we got closer to the the front, we were watching an elderly Asian lady struggling to get to grips with her animal, it was not going to get its picture taken without a fight. Angela asked me if I was excited. I pondered the question and replied “nervous”. Before coming to Australia, holding a koala was on the top of my agenda so there was high expectations.
It reminds me of this story of when I was back in Wales. I was talking to my Mom about koalas and she mentioned them having sharp claws. “Don’t worry Mom,” I assured her “I’ll wear goggles to protect my eyes”. For the next five minutes she was to laugh uncontrollably at my dullness.
The next moment the handler called me over, “This is Kat the koala, she’s quite shy,” she said introducing me to MY koala. The handler went through the instructions on how to handle her and then handed Kat over into my care. Her fur was warm and fuzzy to the touch. I looked at Kat’s peculiar nose and then into her eyes that showed total disinterest to the world around her.
It was time for the photograph but Kat was facing the wrong way. The handler removed some emergency eucalyptus leaves from her belt and tempted Kat’s gaze towards the photographer. SNAP!
For more information about Lone Pine, please visit: http://www.koala.net/