ONE lucky koala got a second chance, thanks to two police officers and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Quick-thinking highway patrol officers Gary Bates and Justin Cordell saved the then nine-month-old koala in September.
Senior Constable Gary Bates looked on yesterday as the healthy 2.5kg juvenile koala had her first solo adventure high up a tree.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital pre-released the koala, named Lake Batesy, into a yard at the Lord Street facility in preparation for release into the wild.
Snr Const Bates and Snr Const Justin Cordell found the joey late at night on September 19 near the centre of Lake Road, not far from her mother, which had been killed by a car.
“We were so grateful we chose to go down that road at that time,” Snr Const Bates said. “We put the flashing blue and red lights on. I collected the joey in the police fluoro raincoat.”
Snr Const Bates said the koala rescue was the highlight of their week. They took her to the police station while calling the koala hospital. Snr Const Bates is now called the “koala man” at the police station.
Home carer Yon Veenstra looked after Lake Batesy for the past three months as she grew from a 965g joey into a 2.5kg juvenile that now has a healthy future.
Lake Batesy soon climbed a tree after pre-release into her temporary home.
She will be released at Dooragan National Park in the Camden Haven in the new year.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital supervisor Cheyne Flanagan said Lake Batesy’s future looked pretty good.
“It [Dooragan National Park] is the most perfect habitat you would ever find anywhere,” she said.
“It’s location, location, and they even have water views.”