It’s two in the morning and a koala is caught in barbed wire on a fence, like a prisoner trying to escape. A phone rings in the home of Megan Aitken in Burpengary, a suburb north of Brisbane. Aitken, 42, runs a volunteer organization devoted to rescuing wild koalas from a surprisingly wide array of hazards. Before the dispatcher has even given her the location, she has thrown her clothes on over her pajamas.
When Aitken arrives on the scene, Jane Davies and Sandra Peachey, two other volunteers, are already there. The koala is clinging to a chain-link fence, its fur snagged in horizontal strands of barbed wire. Towering eucalyptus trees, as pale as ghosts, rise on the far side of the fence.
“He was obviously trying to get to the trees on the other side,” Aitken says.