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^ ,-AT KOALA PARK. r |
BEARS AMUSE DUKE. "LIKE WOUND UP TOYS."
The Duke of Gloucester yesterday visited Koala Park, the protected home of Aus- tralia's national pet-the native bear. The animals amused him Immensely, particularly when thsy looked at him with such surprise and Innocence. He frequently rubbed his hand up and down their soft furry coats, and it was seen that he felt inclined to cuddle one of the animals, but the fact that he had other functions to attend, and not wishing to get hair on his suit, evidently prevented him from doing so.
"What curious little things," said the Duke. "They are like wound-up toys." He was heard to remark to one of his staff that Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose would scream with delight at having one of the little bears for a pet.
The Duke was struck with the beauty of the natural surroundings of the park. After seeing the bears, he had refreshments on a grassy slope overlooking the western valley of Sydney. As he smoked a cigarette, he stood for a minute as though lost in thought, his eyes scanning clusters of lvsavy clouds and a forest of gum trees silhouetted against the setting sun. He could see rich pastures undulating to bushland, red and white roofed homesteads here and there, and horses and cows bending lazily to their feed.
The reserve outside the gates of the park was packed with a surprisingly large num bsr of people, and they showed in a lusty manner the healthful effect on the lungs of the outer suburban air. Schoolchildren and their elders were gathered in large num- bers. Residents for miles round, having come on horseback, sulkies, and drays, arriving hours before in their Sunday best. A group of small boys, who made straight for the park gates as soon as they were let out of school, waved their school-tags, while other children fluttered flags and held out sprigs of Australian flora. A woman sat by the road- side on the edge of a drain with six of her children gathered about her. Each held a waratah and R bunch of flannel flowers.
Flushed with sunburn and pleasure, too, judging by his ready smiles, the Duke re- turned the greetings with waves of his hand and hat-raising, only to have the demonstra- tion renewed. On the roadside tree outside Lhe park two little girls, with long curls and without shoes or stockings, waved franti- cally with flags from their precarious perch, calling, "Coo-ee, coo-ee." They caught the Duke's eye, and, for them, too, he had a smile.
To enter Koala Park the Duke passed through a white latticed portico covered with white flowering wild clematis. On each side were wide streamers of red, white, and blue ribbon tied to íeplicas of kangaroos and
The Royal visitor was received by Mr. T. H. Kelly, the park benefactor, and by Mr. Noel Burnet, part owner and manager, and the presidents of Hornsby and Baulkham Hills shires. As the Duke proceeded to walk along the white, sandy pathway, bordered by fresh young eucalypts, on the way to the bear sanctuary, renewed cries of welcome and "hooray" broke out from the crowd outside. A peacock broke in with its clarion-like cry, and an emu ran across in front of the Duke with its mouth open, uttering a strange gurgling sound.
Further along the path a kangaroo stretch- ed lazily on the glass with its young scratch- ing himself nearby. On the approach of the Royal party the young one jumped into the pouch of its mother, who immediately made off. The Duke laughed heartily at a remark that "the lazy young things ride about with their mothers all day long." Another kan- garoo jumped to an attitude of defence, and balanced upon its tail In characteristic fight- ing pose, the marsupial appeared to be stand- ing at the salute as the Duke passed.
Further on, his Royal Highness was shown the wombat, and he asked the difference be- tween it and a native bear.
The first bear introduced to the Duke was "Boorahy." He studied it for a while, and his eyes caught three babies on the ground. He made a movement towards them, and one of the attendants placed them at the Duke's feet. They rose and hurried off, and the Duke was highly amused at their ludicrously clumsy movements.
Mr. Burnet informed the Duke that the bears were becoming extinct, and he ex- pressed surprise that they had been let to die out to such an extent. Mr. Burnet ex- plained that the bear was a most delicate animal to rear in captivity, and that it had many idiosyncrasies.
During the visit, Dr. M. Humphrey handed the Duke, through his private secretary, a photo of the figurehead of the Windsor Castle on Garden Island. The figurehead of the ship contains the full figure of Queen Vic- toria in full Royal robes.