Animal Encounters, Australia, Bucket Lists, Destination

Befriend a Koala

Visiting the koalas at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Bucket List Item #1: Befriend a koala (and possibly kidnap one as well). It has been a lifelong dream of mine to have a pet koala. Yes, a real koala – and YES as an actual pet. Obviously this isn’t allowed in America, so where might I find this cuddly little bear, you might ask? Australia of course. And so I moved to Australia in February 2012 to study abroad.

I searched high and low (mostly high – particularly high up in eucalyptus trees) for a potential koala companion. Unfortunately, all zoos in Melbourne (where I was residing) didn’t allow people to touch koalas, let alone take them home as pets.

Checking out the koalas at Healesville Sanctuary outside Melbourne, Australia

After doing some research, I found a superb wildlife sanctuary in Gold Coast, Queensland, that allow people to hold koalas. I immediately set off to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in pursuit of a koala to kidnap. My first stop was the “Koala Cuddling” where you could hold a koala and take a few pictures.

After briefly waiting in line, the moment had come. The koala trainer gently pulled a lovable little koala off of a tree branch and this is when I met Yani.

Visiting the koalas at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Yani is three years old and is one of the more mellow koalas at the Currumbin Sanctuary – yes, some koalas are more mellow than others, even though they’re only awake 2 hours a day. The trainer put Yani in my arms and she was surprisingly light (I mean, koalas are kinda chunky) and super soft.

Familiy photo with Yani, the koala bear

We got to pet and hold Yani, take a family photo and talk with the trainers about her for the best 10 minutes of my life. Afterwards, I discreetly slipped Yani into the large bag I had cleverly brought along with me and sneakily ran out of the sanctuary.

Kidding! I unfortunately, still haven’t been able to tame a koala and keep one as a pet. Some might argue that it would be animal cruelty anyway. For now, I have befriended a koala and it was the best 10 minutes of my life.

If you’re slightly obsessed with koala bears (like me) or kangaroos, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is an amazing zoo. They also have a large area for dozens and dozens of kangaroos to prance about where people can go and feed them. They aren’t caged off at all and are exceptionally friendly.


Featured Writer: Kirsten Muolic

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