Sunday, March 18, 2012

Koala Bear Hug

My first ever trip outside the Philippines was in Australia. 

In June of 2000, me and an officemate were sent to Australia through the PRMDP-AusAID program.  It was a 10-day study tour on the GIS (Geographic Information System) practices in selected private and government agencies in Adelaide. 

One of the highlights of the study tour was a visit to one of their parks - Gorge Wildlife Park.   I didn't know exactly where this was located but it was a bit far from the city center.

In the Park, I was able to get up close and personal with two of the famous animals Australia is known for -  the Koala Bear and the Kangaroo.

 One of the Koalas up the tree.  This one is sleeping.  

This Koala is eating eucalyptus leaves.

I was very happy to finally see with my own eyes a living Koala.  But.  What happened next blew my mind. 

Me with a Koala!

The Koala bear was soooo cuddly.  The bear really felt like a stuffed toy because it's so fury and fluffy.  The only difference is, it's alive!   We were able to hold the Koala for a few minutes and take pictures with it because they put the bear into a sleepy state.  Meaning, the Koala won't be hesitant to be cuddled.  He would be too sleepy to bother to resist.  And do you know what they do with the Koala to make them behave that way?  Drugs? Of course, not.  They just actually let them eat the eucalyptus leaves.  Koala's favorite staple, of course, hehehe.  The eucalyptus makes them sleepy.  So, when in a sleepy state, the zoo keeper won't have a hard time letting tourists experience cuddling the bear. 

I was so excited to finally hold a Koala.  I would have wanted to hug him tight.  But didn't.  The claws are long and sharp.  I was afraid it might pierce me.  He might get hurt from my squeeze and might also try to defend himself by hurting me.   But it was ok.  Cuddling him for a minute was enough for me.  An experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I never thought in my lifetime I'd get to cuddle a real Koala.   Until now, I can still remember how it felt.  :-)  

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