Dear Honey -
I remember when we first met you! You were a tiny baby koala in a soft fabric pouch. A kind Australia Zoo worker held you close to her, keeping you warm while your mommy lay on the operating table having surgery on her injuries caused by a car who had hit her. Amazingly, Honey, you survived without any injuries because your mommy’s pouch kept you safe!
I was completely overwhelmed with love and awe as I saw you for the first time – well, I saw the pouch first, but still I was in love! I asked to hold you inside that pastel colored fabric pouch and fell even more in love when we were able to peek inside to see YOU for the first time! I remember Alexis’ screams of delight as we watched you crawl back inside your mommy’s warm pouch after her surgery! We watched your white spotted “hiney” wriggle into your mommy’s pouch and melted when you paused to gaze directly into our eyes as you did so! It was truly the sweetest thing I had ever witnessed and judging by Alexis’ high pitched squeal, she agreed!
We received the honor of naming you, baby Honey, and it was an easy pick because you were truly as sweet as Honey! We also joked that day that you were my 9th child! I gladly accepted the honor! Over the ten months that followed, Terri Irwin faithfully provided pictures and updates on your growth! We were so grateful to her and always looked forward to seeing you and hearing about your progress! And then the day came – last week when I returned to the Australia Zoo to take part in all of the Steve Irwin Day events. I visited the Wildlife Hospital to see my girl just prior to her release back into the wild!
I was able to hold you and snuggle you while you were groggy from the anesthesia that was given to you so that the doctor could perform your final check up before release! I cannot describe the joy I felt in those moments while I snuggled you so closely and snapped many photos to document this very unique and special moment! You were like a real life stuffed animal and were so perfect in every way!
I realized again in that moment how very imperative it is to save our wildlife and conserve their habitat! Honey, you may seem like you are “just” one little Koala Bear, but you represent all wildlife out there… Each has a life and a purpose and each animal provides such joy and wonder to any who are privileged enough to cross your paths!
Because of you, Honey, I now feel it is even more important to continue to work together to keep all animals protected in their environments and aim to help and not harm them!
I know that our visit, and my subsequent visit to the Australia Zoo, has made a life long impact on me and my 8 children… And I am so happy to have had a chance to have met and loved my “9th child” too! You have left a lasting lifelong positive impression on each of us and we thank you so much! I said to you as I kissed your eucalyptus smelling fuzz goodbye just before I handed you back over to the zoo caretakers, “Have a wonderful and happy life, roaming freely, Honey!” … And I meant it with all of my heart!