Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Felted Koala

There has been a notable gap in my blogging, owing to spring break from school followed by the resultant week's worth of laundry. We have been believers in the increasingly popular "stay-cation" ever since our move to New England in 2005, but this year, we decided for a change to go somewhere during our break. My husband grew up in California and it seemed the obvious destination...providing both warm weather AND an opportunity to visit with family and friends. While visiting, we ALSO scheduled a pilgrimage to the famous San Diego Zoo in order to appease my son who has been religiously watching the Panda-Cam on his computer all year. My 5 year old loves animals and even has favorites, namely Pandas, polar bears, and koalas (which are, incidentally, not bears at all, but rather marsupials). By hitting the San Diego Zoo, we were able to see ALL THREE of his holy triumvirate and make his trip memorable.
The koala exhibit at the zoo consisted of 6 short eucalyptus trees in cells traversed by a walking bridge. As we approached, we noticed the furry grey balls in the trees were not moving...they were ALL asleep. My son looked dejected, "Oh no," he exclaimed, "We came at their nap time!" Realizing that koalas, unlike Pre-Kindergartners, cannot have organized nap time, I began to do some reading. As it turns out, it is quite likely that all young visitors to the exhibit have a similar feeling of disappointment, as the koala sleeps 20 of the 24 hours in a day!!! All those photos we see of koalas regarding the cameraman and looking cuter than Paris Hilton mugging in her all-time cutest pre-adolescent frock...the photographer waited a LOOOONNNGGG time for those shots. Here is what the koala usually looks like:


Lucky for us, I managed to capture one lazy koala waking briefly to sluggishly stuff his mouth with a piece of apparently unexciting eucalyptus...here he is:



Now we know why there is no "Koala-Cam" at the Zoo.

Anyhow, my son was really wanting to bring home a koala. Of course, he wanted a real live koala (which, in all honesty, cannot be much more work than a stuffed on sitting on a shelf, though not strictly allowable)...but I at last convinced him a stuffed one would do. [As a child remember having a koala made from REAL koala fur that someone must have sent me from their travels...eeeeyuuuwwwww!] I gathered up some leftover "polar morn" malabrigo and knit this darling stand-in. The pattern is Felted Koala, by Bev Galeskas for Fiber Trends. He's every bit as cute as the real thing...AND he has his eyes open.
NOTE: The San Diego Zoo follows modern rules for humane animal containment, maximizing open air exhibits and working to ensure close simulation of each animal's natural environment. They also employ the best animal and human vets/doctors in their many conservation programs. They are currently banking frozen embryos of every animal on our planet to ensure the preservation of genetic diversity. They fund rescue organizations to rescue the Pandas (particularly the panda research station which was badly damaged by the earthquake), Polar Bears (which are expected to be extinct within our lifetime barring heroic efforts made by organizations such as the SDZ), and the Koala habitat protection program (now especially important in the wake of the fires in Australia). If you are interested in donating to the zoo's important work...by supporting a project, a zoo baby, or adopting an animal...click HERE.

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