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I KOALA PARK.

I An Australian Sanctuary.

I (Bi IVY MOORE.)

"God must have felt very happy when H made the little bears!" a young child one remarked. No more gentle, affectionate ,nd endearing little creature could b imaRlned tnan the native bear, which 1 one of the few wild animals, of which lt cai de said that, like the kangaroo, it does no tike life, or Prey upon lta iel,ows; vet it na teen the innocent victim of ruthless perse

ciition and massacres.

Were it not that the bears eat nothlni whatever, except the leaves of about sevei varieties of gum trees-out of some sever hundred species, they would be in demant is living pets all the world over. But, alas Billy Bluegum cannot exist away from hi natural environment, and even then, lt hai reeded a man of Mr. Burnet's calibre to prc úrve him. against the thousand and om dancers that threaten his peaceful life ¡nch as trappers, so-called sportsmen, plague; i of srasshoppers, and Christmas beetles, whicl

eat up all their leafy food, the gradual de- forestation ot the land, and the virulent epl dtmlcs of pneumonia and other decimatinc diseases, which occasionally sweep across th(

^Behind the large, well-run park, now at the

disposition of the public, there Hes. a very ro- mantic story, the tale of a one-man struggle to preserve the koalas; of the success thal has followed his dogged determination to per- severe, in the face of all opposition, and, nnaiiy in the darkest hour, of the apppear ance of a philanthropic backer, Mr. T. H Kelly of the Perpetual Trustee Co., who sud- denly made everything financially possible, ind'swept away all difficulties.

Seven years ago, Mr. Noel Burnet, as a young man made what was to prove the most event- ful trip of his life) He went to Queensland, There he came in contact with the first native beats he had ever seen. Their gentle ways ind helplessness won his heart at once, and he obtained two or three as peta.

SHAPING AN IDEA.

On his return to Sydney the bears came, loo. In Mr. Burnet's active mind the idea ol t sanctuary had already arisen; so that in 50 years' time, Australia should still see - and lámlre these rare creatures, that no other tountrv can boast of producing. There was, however, much tn be considered. Any piece oí lund, chosen at rnndom, would not do. It must bear the right, kind of eucalypts, and be on a hilltop, with good drainage. His choice Jell upon the present site, and when it was put up for sale, he made a bid of all his »Vinns. The desired amount was not reached, tht land remained unsold, and Mr. Burnet illumed home feeling his optimism shaken, and not s. little disheartened. But when the »hole project seemed doomed to failure, Mr. Kelly made his appearance and gave the enter- prise whole-hearted and generous support. He lurchased the required land, .and leased lt to Ur. Burnet at a very low rental.

From that moment Koala Park has never lockert hack. Working as hard as his keepers md staff. Mr. Burnet turned the large dairy paddock on the hillside into a botanic garden, panted with a variety of bush flowers and uees, which hp.ve attracted numbers of honey eating hirds, as well as a colony of opossums, brijht-eyed little fellows who have made them- selves at home in this beautiful retreat. In the valley there are two hundred kangaroos md wallabies, often carrying their young in (heir pouches, who are as tame as dogs, wan- dering "bout among the visitors and allowing themselves lo be stroked and fondled without the slightest, fear. A wonderful tribute to the keepers' patience and care and a great joy to all the young folks. Emus, cassowaries, and tome fine peacocks are also in evidence, and nt very cager for peanuts.

As Mr. Burnet expresse.? it, "It was a hobby thitcrew up!" He turned all defeats or ad- versities to some good account, and he kept on. The gum tips had to be brought in from the surrounding country, which cost iE 400 a ju;, so four thousand young trees were planted, which In ten years time will solve Ute food problem.

A laboratory and surgery was installed, tripped with every medical device, at a cost ol £1000, and which led lo many Important identifie facts being revealed in the life his- tory of the koala. Sick bears were even treated by Macquarle-street specialists, who kindly offered their services in a crisis. Much volun- tary assistance has been given by Mr. B. A. McMlchan, the well-known veterinary surgeon, md the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Hugh Main, kindly arranged for pathological work to be carried on by the Glenfield Veterinary Re itarch Station. The Minister for Lands, Mr. Buttenshaw, also held out a helping hand.

American visitors from the huge tourist (hips come to Koala Park in great numbers, md are under the impression that they are tbout to see the original of the toy "Teddy Bear." This is an error, however, because, imngely enough, that toy, beloved of all children, ls a replica of the brown American tear, and was nicknamed "Teddy," after the lite President Theodore Roosevelt, who used to be a keen hunter! The koala is regarded by ] mangers as Australia's national pet, and a

ne* Industry of koala toy-making has arisen, thousands being sold as souvenirs.

AN ANCIENT ORDER.

I lt is perhaps little known that the koala

ta an animal of very great antiquity, which I inhabited the primeval forests, before the

tdvent of man, and whose origin goes back ; MOiOO years. The word itself expresses

tar" in aboriginal language, and there are .1 other 5j-nonlmous terms, after which the prê-

tent little denizens are named-such as boor

[»!', colo, burrendong, goomby, kulla, coola I »un, boornee, wlrrlgll, kolac, and koolewongel

Otlnj to the erv of the koala resembling that ! o a child, thc natives believed that the spirits 1 \ « their dead children inhabited these crea

i toes, md, consequently, they rarely molested

1 : wm.

! Hrs, Mary Gilmore, so great an authority . : »» the bush life, relates that when a little

! Jil, on lier way to school, she used to watch ¡ tte native bears in the tree-tops, and en ï ("viur tn prevent, her mlchlevous young I trailers from throwing stones at them!

? j Apart (rom Its engaging ways and pleasing ,.! yarance, this animal is of great interest, , ; «nj a mammal of the marsupial order, of

Î T "Hilly of Phalangerldae. The young one . i » barn in a very immature state, after n i j unod nf 40 days gestation, and is then

Mi one inch In length, and of a pink ; I. wur. Natural instinct makes it seek the

I Wets pouch, where nourished and warm - j '"mains hidden for a period of six months,

wer which it emerges, a bundle of fluffy . ! ar, with two bright black eyes, to Investigate " « \Itlv^sun,lt world- ln 611 security! Clinging i 5 » «is mother's back, master koala travels

( icm tree to tree, and makes the acquaint 9. m T* ot other wee fellows. At night he sleeps

«aped securely, and the south wind sings m H "i uAlaby in the swaying branches. A

Wal little gum baby! Sometimes a ven S"?e..walBr wagtail wl,i fly down and * R,lufts of h|s loose fur, with which to

ncr. nest. Sometimes another youngster vi erreage him in a playful tussel-life ls I««fun to little Billy Bluegum!

r, . 1X1 on'y every second year, and «f« Park now boasts some 80 little rcsl n» i a," slzes' ases, and colourings, rang l 'rom dark grey to silver and fawn shad . »lund of four generations! At four years

Ma 15 M'y Brown, attaining a height , m,, and weighing, on an average. 181b for li 'S« «nd 131b-for a female. They-are

mí, .î"s.and mlSTtory, but seldom descend » uti,. trees except for a mouthful of grit, 5 LT J.re tnen at the . mercy- of their

\ dlnB°es, foxes, or wild cats. There *. - hm V»ey *prc/cr to trayel ta the branches, i j m tree to tree; but when on the ground,

i femi¿a.up,er alone on their padded feet. <> í ¿MV^'Í. claws inward, and it may be 61 H ¡I "J* they are taUless. Their span of

! ti n,bout 15 years.

!l tnLSal.HiBhness the Duke of Gloucester

h i» î of. lnterest when visiting Australia, «1 MKovprnhl^n", tnat,his trip to Koala Park.

äov Äer 2\ranked as °ne oi his most Ht "creations! Putting every one at " ZtoSVL i?enry strolled about the grounds,

lipT, bears, inquiring as to their quaint %t'J* a,ulng" the typical Australian set- as Ä & ine vlew- So interested was awST H1?hness In all he saw that he &\t qnartc£ oi an hour tonger than his ?5,twl; »nd- ta company with a mL? *k d Etonians, who had been as Shth ere by. Mr- Kel,y- drank a toast, um the gum trees, that has been honoured 3 Äli?ver; , ?lorcat Etona!" to which

7 *,« the bears will add: "Lon3

!'he little koalas!"

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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