We would like to introduce you to one of our ardent supporters Veronique Kuijer from the Netherlands. Veronique has been actively involved with the Australian Koala Foundation since 2001 and makes it a point to visit the office every year.
“I have always had koala-fever, as I call it. When I was a little girl I even wanted to be a koala vet”, she says. Her uncle in Australia supported her love for the Australian icon and she started reading everything she could find about koalas.
In 1997 she finally met a koala face to face in Sydney. “It was an incredible moment. I wasn’t allowed to hold him, but could only touch its fur. It was simply amazing. But holding one in my arms in Lone Pine for the first time is a moment I will definitely never forget in my life.”
Veronique joined the Australian Koala Foundation in 2001 and adopted her first Koala. Since then she has sponsored three little fellows who have unfortunately passed away now. “They were all boys, so I decided to adopt a girl this time and I can’t wait to visit her in Lone Pine.” Her wish recently came true as Veronique was able to see her adopted koala Serenity on her most recent trip to Australia in February 2012.
In 2003 Veronique accompanied other AKF members on a research trip to New South Wales. “It was an unforgettable experience. We walked through a beautiful National Park looking for pellets. I was even able to see three wild koalas, an amazing and unique opportunity for me as an European.”
Veronique is one of few tourists who have been lucky enough to see koalas in their natural habitat. She has spotted them in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and hopes that other people will be as lucky. “Reading Deborah’s Diary makes me really sad. The koala was the only reason why I came to Australia in the first place and it is incomprehensible to me that the Australian government can’t protect it. It is a shame and I think that the Government doesn’t value these amazing creatures enough.”
Veronique does everything she can to support the Australian Koala Foundation and has signed up for the Koala Campaigners in the past, signed petitions and bought her souvenirs in the Save the Koala Shop. “Sadly enough I can’t vote in Australia, but I just try to spread the word among my friends. I will also sign up for the Koala Army as this is the only army in the world I would ever join.”
The koala fever seems to be a well known infection in her family as even her eight-year-old niece Maite loves the koalas. Maite bakes koala cookies and speaks about koala problems in schools. She even donated $5 of her pocket money to help to save the koala. Maybe not much for some people, but a lot for the koala and our organisation as even the smallest amount is put to good use. Veronique has developed a strong bond with the Australian Koala Foundation and its CEO Deborah Tabart OAM. “I just have to come here every time. It is not a holiday without being here, going to Lone Pine and visiting the Australian Koala Foundation and Deborah. She is a great inspiration for me and I am sure for many other koala lovers all over the world.”