- Oh! That is a very strong smell.
Here smell the tip of my finger.
- [Mark] That was the Cheez-it smell.
(gentle piano music)
- [Coyote] Upon arriving in Australia,
I had my sights set on getting up close with some
of the countries most iconic mammalian inhabitants.
However, approaching mammals in the wild
is incredibly difficult.
As most species are very weary of human interaction.
So encounters tend to be nothing more
than a fleeting glimpse.
The best solution for getting an up close
and personal interaction is to work at a wildlife park
where native animals are being rehabilitated
or raised under the care of humans.
So we reached out to the Billabong Sanctuary,
an establishment that has been providing the public
with a hands on approach to learning about
native species for over 35 years.
Located just outside of Townsville,
they're considered one of Queensland's
premiere ecotourism attractions.
And their grounds are home to various
Australian icons including kangaroos, wombats,
dingos, and of course the one and only koala.
So if you are in the mood for
an extreme dose of cute and cuddly,
then this is definitely the episode for you.
- [Mark] Coyote what to do you have there?
- Well, it's about eight o'clock in the morning
and it is breakfast time.
And today, I'm having breakfast with a koala.
So I'm gonna bring this eucalyptus into its enclosure
and see if we can get it to eat.
You guys ready?
- [Mark] Let's do it
- Here we go.
- [Mark] Now you can't eat this can you?
- No, it's toxic for me, but it is perfect for Banjo.
Hi buddy, how are you?
- [Mark] Who's Banjo?
- This is Banjo the koala, he's a big koala too.
Alright, let's do this.
You see this?
We've got a couple water troughs right here
and on this side.
And what I'm gonna do,
is place these branches of eucalyptus
inside these little water troughs.
Smells just like a cough drop.
Alright, looks like he's interested in these leaves.
Mark why don't you come around this side?
Koalas are very specialized because
they only eat eucalyptus leaves.
And there are hundreds of species of eucalyptus trees.
And they are very selective about
the leaves that they will eat,
only a few varieties actually interest these animals.
There's breakfast, it's right there.
Look it, here's the good ones.
And they really only eat the tips.
Now let's see, whoa you're sitting in the leaves,
you're sitting on your breakfast Banjo.
Have a scratch.
- [Mark] Koala scratch.
- There you go, alright I'm gonna take off my pack here.
Okay here we go, he's starting to snack.
Oh, that's the good stuff, look at that.
Wow, pretty good huh?
- [Mark] How much eucalyptus can this koala eat Coyote?
- A lot, now they're primarily nocturnal,
so during the day they spend a lot of their time
sleeping up in the trees.
But, as soon as it gets cool and dark out
they start to get active.
Now early in the morning like this, they will also eat.
They spend the majority of their day sleeping,
up to 18 hours a day sleeping, and the rest of the time,
they're pretty much just feasting.
And they can eat about a kilogram
of leaves every single day.
And they like these younger tips of the leaves.
You see these, the softer juicier leaves and they absorb
most of their moisture from the food that they eat.
- [Mark] So it's their food and their water.
- Food and water at the same time.
I mean they're an arboreal species
so primarily they're staying up in the treetops.
So they get down on the ground they stand a chance of
running into potential predators like dingos.
Now up in the trees you maybe think to yourself
well what could get up in a tree
and eat something like a koala?
Obviously a bird of prey like an eagle or a very large hawk.
But for the most part, they stay
pretty tucked down when they're sleeping,
stay camouflaged up against the trunk of a tree,
they're gonna be just fine.
Oh can you see that?
Look, you can kind of see those front teeth there.
Similar to the teeth of a wombat, very rodent looking.
Now they are related to wombats,
as we know they are marsupials.
Now most marsupials have pouches,
however Banjo is a male, the males do not have pouches.
But the females, when they have a baby,
it's called a joey right?
And the joey is tiny, only the size
of a jellybean when it's born.
It has no fur, no ears, and it's completely blind.
Now it will stay in the mother's pouch
for around five to six months.
Once it develops enough, then it will crawl out
from the pouch and just hang on to the mother's back
and sort of stick with it until it's
big enough to head out on it's own.
Alright Mark, check this out, this is really cool.
Go ahead an zoom in right through these leaves.
You see that yellowish mark right there
in the center of that cream colored chest?
- [Mark] Is that dirt?
- No that is actually the koala's scent gland.
It secretes a very strong musk and Banjo, I'm just going to
touch your little scent gland there, if you don't mind.
Let me see.
Oh! That is very strong smell,
I read that koalas smell somewhere
between a real strong musk and eucalyptus.
So what I did want to do is I want to smell the koala,
let me see here.
Oh, yeah, very strong smell.
I would say somewhere between a muddy grimy wet dog
and a really old cough drop
and here smell the tip of my finger.
That is some strong musk but to a female koala
that must smell excellent.
Well it looks like Banjo has had a
fair share of eucalyptus leaves and I think
you guys all want me to get a more up close look, right?
- [Mark] Are you gonna hold a koala?
- I'm gonna hold a koala, here we go.
Now what I need to do, hi Banjo,
now to do this I'm gonna get in real close
and he's gonna just kinda put his hand up there.
I want to support his backside.
Just go like that, there we go buddy,
hop on down, there we go.
Just like cradling a baby, only much softer.
Hi Banjo, that's what we call the koala cuddle, right there.
Wow, he's so dense, oh my gosh, the fur is incredible.
You don't really realize it until it's actually on you but
- [Mark] Wow, it's almost like a lamb
- I know right?
Like a lambs wool, koala's wool, very very dense
and a lot of animals you think about having these coarse
outer guard hairs and he's just
dense and brillo-y all throughout.
Oh my gosh you are just so cute.
I'm trying to talk rather quiet next to his ears,
look at the ears.
Kind of reminds me of Gizmo from "Gremlins"
with those big ears.
And they do have excellent hearing.
Look how they can kind of individually
move each one of those ears too.
Oh my gosh you're so cute, very calm.
I think it's really neat how they
have those vertical pupils too.
Go ahead and zoom in on the eyes there.
So calm, so kind.
It's a koala hug.
I can smell his scent gland and it's kind of
pressed up against my chest there
so I think I'm probably gonna smell like
a koala for the rest of the day.
Which would attract in some female koalas,
but when it comes to everybody else being around me,
sorry guys I may have to ride in the
back of the truck on the way home.
Oh my gosh look at that big nose.
- [Mark] Looks like he's gonna sleep
- Well he did have that big breakfast of eucalyptus leaves.
Is it almost nap time, what do you think?
Let's turn like this.
Can you see how his claws are just
hooked onto my shoulder there?
Those are some serious claws.
- [Mark] Can you feel those claws?
- Yeah I can feel them holding on to me,
I mean they aren't like piercing through
my shirt or anything like that.
But I am just trying to make calm movements,
I don't want to startle him in any way whatsoever.
He seems just very content to hang out on me.
Alright well I think Banjo is pretty comfortable
with me at this point so let's crouch down
and get into a slightly more comfortable position.
There we go, what a big cuddler.
I think we can all agree that the koala
is arguably the most adorable animal that
we've seen so far here in Australia.
But a lot of times people often think that these
are bears because of the term koala bear.
But the koala bear in fact, is not related to bears at all.
And as we know it is a marsupial.
Which means of course that they have a pouch.
Now notice how quiet Banjo is
and you're thinking to yourself,
well koala is like the most stealthy silent creature
you've ever held on to Coyote, but believe it
or not koalas are capable of making some incredible sounds.
Especially the males, they can do this
large guttural bellow this sort of
Sounds kind of like a howler monkey if
I were to compare it to something.
That's sort of a territorial dominance thing,
it also can draw in females basically saying
"I am the king of this eucalyptus tree".
Has Banjo gone to sleep?
- [Mark] No, he's still awake
- On this side he's got one eye closed,
he's taking a little koala catnap.
- [Mark] Banjo wasn't very impressed by your koala call.
- No I guess my bellow wasn't quite enough.
Turn you this way, here we go.
Guys you want to know a fact that's pretty
interesting but also kind of gross?
- [Mark] I have a feeling you're going to tell us anyway.
- I am going to tell you, I don't know if you guys
want to hear this one but we know that
adult koalas eat eucalyptus leaves and the microorganisms
in their digestive tract help breakdown those leaves
and allow them to deal with the toxins.
However the babies are not capable of eating leaves yet.
So what they have to do is eat their mother's poop.
- [Mark] Ew, why is that?
- Now the reason they do that is that
the bacteria that's transferred from the poop
into the babies helps coat the inside of their
digestive tracts so they are then capable
of eating those leaves and breaking them down.
How would you like that, to start out by eating your
mom's poop before you actually got a full nourishing meal?
Pretty gross, right?
Alright guys, well I don't think you can
visit Australia without getting
the chance to see one of these iconic animals.
And getting the chance to hold one, is absolutely amazing.
Now I feel bad because I've been snuggling
Banjo this entire time.
You guys have been behind the cameras,
kinda saying to yourselves, oh my gosh it's so adorable,
but would you like to hold a koala?
- [Mark] I want to hold a koala, Mario?
- [Mario] Absolutely
- [Mark] Alright Mario how about you go first.
- I'm just going to transfer him.
- Now you're going to smell like a koala.
Oh my gosh I do, I smell like a koala.
Alright, I'm gonna get out this camera,
so I can get some shots of this.
- [Mark] Mario you're doing it
- [Coyote] What do you think?
- So my first thought is, it's solid,
and it kind of feels like I'm holding a baby.
You know, you kind of just have to be very gentle
and slow with your movements.
- [Coyote] Oh, watch your face, some sharp claws
I think he likes your hat.
- [Mark] Yeah he's like, give me that hat
- [Mario] Heavier than you think right?
- Oh my goodness, hi, hi, how are you?
When I was a kid, I'm sure you did too,
we ate those treats Koala Yummies, you remember those?
- [Mario] Oh yeah I remember Koala Yummies
- And I remember when I was a kid thinking,
I wonder if I'll ever get to actually
hold a real koala bear.
And this is that moment.
I smell like Cheez-its, you know the cheddar snacks.
- [Coyote] Really?
- I think maybe it's his like his musk gland or something.
It's kind of a cheesy, pungent smell.
But, totally worth it, totally worth it
to get to hold a koala bear.
You can definitely feel those claws guys.
Oh, that's what it was, that was the Cheez-it smell.
- You or the musk gland?
- [Mark] The musk gland.
- Well I don't think anyone would argue with me
if I said that the koala wasn't
questionably the most adorable animal
that we have seen here in Australia.
I'm Coyote Peterson, be brave.
Stay wild, we'll see you on the next adventure.
Alright, let's get Banjo back up into his roost.
The marsupials of Australia are some
of the most unique creatures on our planet.
And getting the chance to work along side several of them,
including Blossom the brushtail possum,
Wanda the wombat,
and Banjo the koala really opened my eyes
as to how diverse our planet truly is.
If you ever have the chance to visit Australia,
and happen to find yourself near Townsville,
definitely take a day to visit the Billabong Sanctuary,
where you can see all the fantastic residents
that we feature on the Brave Wilderness channel.
Still in the mood for cute,
but maybe not so much the cuddly?
If so, make sure to go back and watch
the episode where I got a handful of spikes
from the adorably bizarre echidna.
And don't forget, subscribe, so you can join me
and the crew on this season of Breaking Trail.