Taking caring to great heights Story by Jan Hughes. Photos by Charlie Murray Nov.09
Saturday 14th Nov started out as a normal kind of day on the Island, until Val Eldridge ( one of our koala carers ) received a phone call. It is the sort of call we hope never comes; " There was a tiny baby koala on the ground in 8th Avenue, with its mother at least 8 metres up a very smooth bark tree."
Val turned up on my doorstep with a towel in her hands and inside was a tiny koala, not quite big enough to be cute but gorgeous none the less.
We weighed the baby, 475gms, and examined it for injury and found none. Val then took the little one home, placed it in a pouch with heat pad while we thought of what to do. I had been so sick with Ross River/ Barmah Forest Virus, the only part of me working was the brain.
Val had arranged with the couple who found the baby to keep an eye on the mother and if she came down, the plan was to stick this baby to her.
By 2.30pm Mum was still up the tree and we were getting desperate. I had, during the course of the week, been watching a tree man doing his job and saw how he carefully worked around a Tawny Frogmouth mother and baby and thought " what a nice man"
I rang Val and said " I have been thinking " which can be a bit dangerous at times. Then I asked her to ring the tree man and ask if he would bring his cherry picker. Val did this and he said he would be over in half an hour.
Great relief was felt and a plan hatched. Val the brave was to go in the cherry picker and stick the little one to mum.
All was going well with Doug the tree man and Val had the baby wrapped in the towel loaded up ready to go when a power line was spotted going through the tree. They went as high as they could watching the power line at all times. When they got so close to mum Val reached up and was about two foot short. Our hearts sank down below as Rob Eldridge and I holding a blanket to be held, fireman fashion, in case the baby fell.
Next minute Doug the tree man, took the towel in his huge hands and gently placed the baby on mum's back. We all heaved a sigh of relief as the tiny baby wriggled around to the front of mum, stuck its head in mum's pouch and with its little bum and legs kicking started to feed.
With all now being well we offered to pay Doug for his time and machine. He flatly refused any payment, saying this one was free and that we could pay him next time.
This wonderful man is Doug Livingstone, who operates Safe Tree out of Newlands Drive. He had to come from Newlands Arm to help us. We thank him sincerely for his kindness and compassion.