Koala Bear resting at Healesville Sanctuary

G’day from Australia! My name is Molly and I am a Design and Merchandising student at Drexel University. For part of the Summer term and entire Fall term I will be studying at Swinburne University near Melbourne, Australia. Australia in general has been the most friendly and welcoming place. Although Melbourne is 10,294 miles away from Philadelphia, people here have made it feel like home.

As part of our orientation at Swinburne, we took a trip to Healesville Sanctuary, located in the Yarra Valley, about an hour outside of Melbourne. Here we were able to see first hand the indigenous wildlife of Australia in their natural “bush” setting. The animal everyone is anxious to see is the cute and cuddly koala bear. Although adorable, the koala bear sleeps about 18 hours a day, so we were not able to see much movement from them. We were also able to see kangaroos and wallabies. It was surprising how much larger the kangaroos were than how they appear on television. The Sanctuary also provides a home to the Lyrebird. Although it may look like a regular bird, the Lyrebird is one of the best impersonators. It is able to mimic sounds such as a chainsaws as well as people talking. Unfortunately, we were not able to hear this impressive skill firsthand.

One of the most interesting animals at the sanctuary was the Tasmanian Devil. The Tassie Devil (as locals refer to it) looks nothing like the American cartoon. This native Australian animal resembles a groundhog, until it opens its mouth lined with sharp teeth. It was interesting to learn that this marsupial is dangerously close to extinction. A certain cancer is being transmitted among the Tassie Devil population at a fast rate. It is transmitted through biting, which is common among these animals during mating season as well as feeding. Fortunately, Healesville Sanctuary has been rescuing healthy devils and breeding them to make sure this species is around for years to come.I really enjoyed the trip to Healesville. I learned a great deal about the indigenous wildlife of Australia while having the experience of seeing them firsthand.

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