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Koala Spirit

The aboriginal people gave the koala its name and as a much-loved Australian icon koala’s have been immortalised in soft toys and in the ‘Blinky Bill’ stories. Although often mistakenly called a bear, the koala is actually a marsupial herbivore and the mother carries her baby or joey, which is about the size of a jellybean when it is born, in her pouch. The joey is usually independent at about 12 months of age.

Koala Spirit

Koala and Joey

Cedar's photo of a Koala Spirit

Mother Koala and Joey

This Koala Spirit charmingly illustrates the spirit within all animals and wildlife. I photographed this dreamy one in 2009 high in a eucalypt tree at my sister Chris Hooper's home, which borders a eucalypt forest by the banks of the Yarra River on the outskirts of Melbourne. As an Australian power animal Koala represents the importance of looking within ourselves for sage advice and the answers to all of our questions.

Koalas live in tall eucalypt forests and low eucalypt woodlands along the eastern regions of Australia and being nocturnal, they sleep during the day and consume about a kilogram of gum leaves at night. There are about 700 species of eucalypts, however koalas select only the juiciest tips of the leaves from just 50 species.

Tragically, koalas are dying out due to a stress disease called chlamydia that causes chronic diseases in the urogenital and respiratory tracts that affects up to 90 percent of the koala population. Dog attack, bushfires, vehicle strikes and the loss of habitat and sources of food to housing development are believed to bring about much of the stress.

Sam and David Sam

David Tree and Sam the Koala

Sam being treated for her burns.

Sam was discovered in the burnt bush land near Mirboo North in Victoria on 1 February 2009 after a defensive back burning operation was undertaken in an attempt to prevent large fires in the area. Mark Pardew, a firefighter photographed David Tree, another firefighter, giving the very dehydrated koala three bottles of water. Her rescuers called her Sam after the place where she was found in Samson Road.

When the volunteers of a Wildlife Rescue and Protection group rescued Sam she was suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Carers at a wildlife shelter near Moe lovingly treated her for six months until she sadly succumbed to Chlamydia and had to be euthanised.

These images of Sam became famous all around the world, so much so, that a manager had to be appointed to deal with the influx of enquiries and now she has her own website, blogs and even a facebook fan page with over 67,500 fans. Sam is preserved at the Melbourne Museum as a symbol of the devastating impact that fire has upon wildlife.