And then she… handed me the pooping koala

When I was little, I always thought that a kangaroo would be as tall as my mom (something about the image of a mother kangaroo hopping around with her joey in her pouch lead to that belief) and that a koala bear would be way more fun to cuddle, than my teddy.

Turns out I was mostly wrong about the first and completely wrong about the second.

Kangaroos can range in size from under 1 foot to over 6 feet, depending on the species. Of the sixty-odd kinds, only the larger varieties, Red Kangaroo and Eastern Grey Kangaroo, are 5 feet or taller…and even then, only large, mature males would come close to, or beat mom’s 5’6”.

And koalas are not bears, but marsupials; and can have pretty mean tempers if disturbed… so it wouldn’t be as simple as just plucking one out of tree and hugging it.

Still, I was definitely looking forward to actually holding one, at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane.

“Awww, they are like babies!” I thought as I awaited my turn in the queue and saw an adorable looking koala endearingly put its arms around a lady as she posed for her photo.

When it was my turn and I got closer to the koala and his handler, I noticed small black-brown droppings emerging from its body.

“Umm…This one’s pooping”, I pointed.

“Oh they do that about 300 times a day” said the handler nonchalantly, and promptly placed Maximus in my hands.

“Smile!”, instructed the photographer, as I stood blaming Murphy’s Law.

(There was no cuddling either. Which worked fine for me… in THAT situation.)

So, in a way it was like holding a baby. One who doesn’t like you very much. AND is not wearing a diaper.

Hey, at least I didn’t get wee-ed over!

Travel Tips

  • The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is about 12km from Brisbane city centre. The cab ride cost us $45 each way. If you plan to visit it and other spots like Mount Coot-Tha lookout, and don’t want to depend on public transportation, renting a car would be a good (and cheaper) option.
  • Entry tickets to the sanctuary cost $33 per adult. They also offer a family pass for $80, that allows 2 adults and up to three children.
  • One standard picture holding a koala costs $16. However, once you pay that, you can have your friends included in the photo and take more pictures using your own camera/ phone (their photographer can also help with this). The sanctuary is self-funded and the proceeds go towards helping their koala related research. If you don’t want to pay for a photo, but want a pic with a koala, then try and catch one of the 2 Koala Presentations, where they will bring a koala out for you to pat and/ or take a picture of.
  • Not many places in Australia allow cuddling koalas (I discovered this later). It could apparently cause stress to the animal… they are creatures of the wild after all.