Lizzy Koala is a very special resident of Maroochy Botanic Gardens. Her territory is wide (see map below) but she has often been spotted by visitors to the Gardens who look carefully!
When Lizzy was captured in the gardens in September 2016 by the Koala Research team from the University of Queensland, it was found that she was suffering from koala chlamydia and its side effects. She spent the next five months in treatment at the Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo, and released very fit and well back into the Gardens in February 2017 .
Since then she has been watched carefully by members of the Friends of Maroochy BG, and data about her GPS location, trees frequented and activity are recorded several times each week and sent back to the university team. Lizzy wears tracking equipment to help the Friends and the University of Queensland find her more easily.
She was captured again in February 2018 to check her health, and once again she needed treatment for koala chlamydia. She was released back in the Gardens in April 2018 after five weeks treatment at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Since then she has moved about her territory, often evading our koala tracking team members. The thicker the tree canopy the more difficult it can be to spot Lizzy, especially when she is high (over 25 metres) in her favoured trees. That is great for Lizzy, but not much good for our koala stalkers!
Lizzy Updates: April 2019
Lizzy had not been spotted at the gardens since she broke the weak link on her tracking collar in November 2018. The collar was tracked, but it did not have Lizzy attached! Despite a number of searches, she was lost to us, until 8th April, when Russ Miller from the University of the Sunshine Coast Koala Research Team, ably assisted by his koala detection dog 'Bear', located Lizzy in the middle of her known territory. She was looking very fit and well, with no obvious signs of koala chlamydia.
Visitors to the gardens during 2020 have seen koalas several times during the year, and occasionally Friends identify a koala as Lizzy (by her generally smaller size and the Blue ear tag she has worn since 2016). However recent university research has found that collared koalas do suffer stress from wearing tracking collars, and the Friends respect Sunshine Coast Council's decision not to allow the collaring of koalas. So until some other tracking strategies are developed, koala sightings in the gardens will be infrequent, but very much enjoyed by the Friends. If you see a koala in the gardens, please tell one of the orange (or blue) shirted Friends working in the gardens, or one of the Council gardens staff (usually in a yellow shirt).
There are several other koalas who live in the gardens and adjacent Sunshine Coast Council Reserves. They appear to be in good health, but as they are males, they range over a much larger territory. They don't have tracking collars, so we do not see them very often.
When you are next in the Gardens, ask at the Visitor Information Centre if any of the Friends' koala trackers are about. If so, they can take you to see Lizzy if she is visible in an easily accessible location. In the meantime, you can follow the story of the Gardens' koalas on the Facebook group Maroochy BG Friends. Koala lovers everywhere are very welcome to join that Facebook group to keep up to date about Lizzy.