Valley farm responsible for feeding nation's zoo koalas dries up

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TONOPAH, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Many of the eucalyptus trees you see planted along highways and in landscaping around the Valley came from one nursery.

The same man, Paul Chambers, says he's is also responsible for feeding many of the koalas in zoos across the country.

"Well there's San Diego, there's Albuquerque, Cleveland, Columbus," said Chambers.

His farm, the ‘Australian Outback Plantation’ in Tonopah hit a dry spell. Now he and the koalas need help.

"This is all they eat, you know. Koalas only eat eucalyptus," he said.  

He spent his days caring for and harvesting the eucalyptus until one Saturday when his wells went dry.

"As the water is being depleted here in the Harquahala Valley, the levels have gone down,” said Chambers.

His only option is to bring in water from a neighbor’s well. For the last nine weeks, he and his workers have been hauling 30 thousand gallons onto the property every day.

That’s only enough to water his greenhouses. His established trees have not seen a drop in months. Already a few have begun to die.

"So that's our biggest plight, we need to water these trees. We need to make sure that the koala we're feeding have the nutrient they need," said Chambers. 

Digging a deeper well will cost Chambers $55,000.

"It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But at least we've got someone who wants to come and drill a hole for us," he said.  

He’s set up a GoFundMe account to try and raise that money. He needs it by next week.

"Sometimes my family in Australia say why don't you just forget about it and come home?”

But Chambers isn't giving up on his business of 40 years.

"It's a labor of love," he said.  

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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