By Luke Voogt
Adorable baby koala Beau is fast becoming a favourite for Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary’s junior rangers – at least among the girls.
“The boys are more interested in the snakes, reptiles and talking cockies,” senior keeper Judy O’Brien said.
“They’re probably more entertaining than a koala that just sits there eating leaves or sleeping.
“They sleep 15 to 20 hours a day – I’ve had little kids come out of the enclosure and say, ‘is that all koalas do?’”
Beau, on holiday at the sanctuary with mum Tilly, is just one of many animals local kids get to meet in the junior rangers program running each school holidays.
“He was born at the dingo conservation centre at Castlemaine,” Judy said.
“He’s very social and he likes a cuddle.”
But only the sanctuary’s keepers and mum Tilly get to enjoy that pleasure due to Victorian law, she added.
“Only people that work with koalas are allowed to hold them.”
Kids spend the morning learning about the animals and assisting keepers and volunteers with their duties in the program, which has already sold out these school holidays.
They receive a certificate, morning tea and lunch along with photo opportunities at the end of the day for their efforts.
“It’s good to have the junior ranger program because they’re going to be our future,” Judy said.
“We have some kids that come back every school holidays because they love it so much, and some come back as volunteers.”
Another five kids visited the sanctuary on Tuesday meeting lizards, baby crocodiles and friendly two-year-old joey Noodle.
“He loves people and everybody loves little joey kangaroos,” Judy said.
For details about the sanctuary visit jirrahlinga.com.au