Our Autumn move of rehabilitated kangaroos to their delayed-release site is now nearing completion; with their eventual release on 2000 acres of remote private wildlife sanctuary land. Thirty four animals have so far been translocated to the five acre pre-release enclosure with another three to be moved in the next few days. A further 30 kangaroos will be translocated and released in Spring. Kangaroo translocation and release back to the wild has to be undertaken very sensitively and with a lot of care and consideration to achieve full success. Each of these rehabilitated kangaroos has a unique story to tell about the initial ordeal that brought them into care and their ultimate recovery at Possumwood. They include the following:
- Max: A 70kg male with a severe head injury, fractured zygoma orbit and palate and fractured humerus from a MVA. Rescued at midnight from busy road.
- Mum and at heel joey: Both rescued from an animal cruelty situation where they were denied movement and water and where chased by children on motorcycles in extreme heat conditions.
- Venus: An orphan raised from 320 grams to 25kgs at release.
- Maya: A 2kg orphan with a leg deformity that was corrected through surgery. 20kg at release.
- Butterfly: An orphan at-heel joey rescued while drinking from deceased mother. 18kg at release
- Mickey: An orphan from another carer following surgery to remove crystals in urethra. 25kg at release.
- Beau: 30kg female kangaroo with a pelvic injury from an MVA. Rescued from a busy highway.
- Banksia: A 20kg female rescued with pelvic injury from MVA.
- Princess Rosalinda: Orphaned 2kg female wallaroo with fractured tail and humerus from MVA. Full recovery and 15kg at release.
- Tammy: 12kg female kangaroo found lying near a dam for several days with fractured pelvis. Full recovery and released at 20kgs.
- Lucy: Mother shot through the mouth by trespassers to a property. Still alive the mother, with infected wounds, still carried her joey (Lucy) but could not toilet her. The mother had to be euthanased and Lucy had ulcerated eyes from the urine in the mother’s pouch. Lucy had to have both eyes sutured closed to allow the ulcers to heal. Lucy has made a full recovery and now is a big girl at 20kg at release.
- Terry: The all-grown-up male joey of a much loved kangaroo from our property called Tangalina.
- Prissy: A rescued fence hanger with full recovery and 20kg at release.
- Gus: A rescued fence hanger with full recovery at 25kg.
- Pixie: Rescued from the ACT before their rangers could shoot her as they tend to do with wildlife. She made a complete recovery from illness and released at 20kg.
- Braid: A 20kg female with joey in pouch rescued from a difficult situation in Braidwood. From Possumwood she has been moved to the delayed release site pre-release enclosure.
- Muffit: A 20kg female raised as an orphan from 750 grams.
- Curly: An at-heel dependent male joey with a serious infection rescued by us. Made a full recovery in care and is now released at 17kg.
- Sassy: Came into care as a 700 grams female furless joey. Dehydrated, undernourished and overheated. Made a full recovery in care and is released at 20 kg.
- Errol: Sassy’s joey, released with her mother
- Ridge: An MVA, fractured tibia. Full recovery. 20kg at release
- Sunshine: Freya’s joey. Released at 18kg.
- Tara: rescued by Steve, severe concussion and end of tail degloved. Full recovery and released at 25kg.
- Ditch: rescued by Steve from a deep hole in the ground into which she had fallen as a small joey.
- Blues Brother #1: A rescued fence hanger. A full recovery and released at 20kg.
- Blues Brother #2: A rescued orphan.
- Cherry Blossum: Orphan from an MVA with a fractured foot and tail. Made a full recovery and released at 18kg.
- Dancer: Orphaned when her rescued mother died from injuries from being caught in a fence. Dancer released at 18kg.
- Beaver: A male Wallaroo rescued with a fractured foot as a joey. A full recovery. Released at 15kg.
- Barney: An infected leg from a dog attack. A full recovery.
- Kenny: Kenny is Lucy’s big boy. He grew up totally at Possumwood. Kenny is around 30kg at release.
- Scooter: A fence injured juvenile transferred from another carer. Fully recovered and released at 25kgs.
- Inca: Offspring of Maya .
Just before Christmas Steve and Rosemary were called to rescue a huge kangaroo that had been hit by a vehicle near Queanbeyan. Max must have been 75kg and 2 metres tall. His injuries included a fractured cheek, fractured upper palate, head injury and severe concussion. His jaw was intact. The rescue was undertaken around midnight and Max was brought back to the Possumwood Recovery Centre for treatment and recovery. As Max continued to improve he became increasingly difficult to medicate. After two months Max had made a full recovery and was taken to the pre-release site prior to final release where he will have no difficulty negotiating traffic as there is none. Max should have a long and happy life at his new home.
On Australia Day Rosemary was recognised for her services to wildlife rescue and recovery in the Palerang Shire at a ceremony at the council chambers in Bungendore. With Steve, Rosemary has rescued and helped in the recovery of more than 4000 injured wildlife over the past 15 years. In 2015 alone more than 350 wild animals were taken in to the self-funded Possumwood Wildlife Recovery and Research Centre for treatment and recovery.
There has been a mystery illness killing the juvenile (last year’s joeys) Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the Wamboin /Bywong area over the last 2 months. The first cases we became aware of were rescued by experienced wildlife carers in the local area; Jo Walker, Tony and Terry Cooper and ourselves. The animals were so weak that the rescuers could often just walk up to them and wrap them in a blanket. Most would die within 12-24 hours despite treatment with warmth and security, fluids, antibiotics and nutrition. Death was so rapid that it was difficult to arrange an examination of a live animal by a vet. The animals had lost weight and were very lethargic. Several had a systolic heart murmur and bradycardia (slow heart rate). The respiratory rate was slow and pattern abnormal. Some had opisthotonous (head arching backwards) and dilated slightly reactive pupils. Several animals had seizures . The one animal who I was with at time of death had a respiratory arrest . Due to the severe weather we have been having in this area some were hypothermic (26-29 degrees). We have had 15 animals either brought to us at the Possumwood Wildlife Recovery Centre or rescued by us and another four were still mobile and not able to be caught easily. There have been many reports by residents in this area of deaths of juvenile EG on their properties. All animals we have cared for have been placed in isolation at our wildlife recovery centre. Dr Howard Ralph from Southern Cross Wildlife Care – the most experienced wildlife vet in Australia – did a post mortem on two animals, Rainbow and Moonbeam, on the 6th of August. Unfortunately Rainbow had died only a couple of hours before Howard was able to examine the animals. Moonbeam had died the night before. Rainbow had a large amount of fluid in the peritoneal cavity (ascites) and fluid around the heart and lungs (pericardial and pleural effusions). There also appeared to be pathology in the brain and meninges. There was food in the stomach and the poo in the bowel was pelleted and appeared normal. Urine dipstick was also normal. Rainbow had some worms (Strongyles ?) in the bowel. There were similar findings for Moonbeam. The possibility that the deaths could be due to an encephalomyocarditis virus was considered. Tissue samples were taken and sent to Sydney University for histopathology. Unfortunately the tissue sample sent to the usual veterinary pathology laboratory for viral and bacterial culture was not able to be processed because we were told private laboratories do not do viral cultures. The animal deaths were reported to the local Wildcare acting macropod coordinator and to Wildlife Health Australia. We were called to rescue a juvenile (Moonshine) from Forest Road at 9 pm on Sunday night 16 August. This little animal was very unwell. The kind staff at the local vet surgery at Bungendore arranged for little Moonshine to be examined by Dr Michael McCormack on Monday morning. As Moonshine was near death, the poor little creature was euthanased and immediate transport to the Elizabeth Macarthur Institute in Sydney was arranged. Dr McCormack’s examination findings were the same as what we have observed.The post mortem findings from the Elizabeth Macarthur Institute were similar to those of Dr Ralph. It is possible that if these deaths are due to an infectious disease then it is the immune system which is making these juveniles susceptible. We are not seeing more than the usual number of deaths in adults or in pouch joeys (who are protected by the mother’s immune system). Some locals have been concerned re poisoning of the animals but the widespread occurrence of the deaths and the selectivity for juveniles suggest that this is not the case. This event brings to mind the saying – Today’s abundant species is tomorrow’s endangered species.
Steve and Rosemary delivered three papers at the Third International Minding Animals Conference in New Delhi in January. One paper was on the work they do for injured wildlife at Possumwood, a second was concerned with neuropsychological issues in Australian kangaroos and the third was about wildlife knowledge systems and the epistemological implications for environmental analysis
In the Fact Sheet section we reported on our success in treating a life threatening respiratory illness in infant eastern grey kangaroos using the antiviral Valaciclovir. We had suspected a herpes virus which are known to affect kangaroos and this medication is used to treat herpes virus infections in humans. Nasal swab pathology tests were ordered for Herpesvirus PCR. Test Result : The sample was positive for the presence of
herpesvirus DNA by PCR.
Rosemary and I rescued Scottie last September. He had been attacked by dogs and was in a bad way. But this was to be his lucky day. His wounds and his general condition were so bad most other rescuers would probably have had him euthanised Fortunately our wildlife veterinarian could see him the same day and after a lengthy procedure to clean out seven very deep incisor wounds he came back to Possumwood for the recovery stage. After three months in recovery all his wounds had healed and he weighed a strapping 37 kgs. Last week Scottie went to his new home at Hammers Hill wildlife sanctuary. A perfect place for a wombat. There is much more to tell about our adventures with Scottie and a full story with pictures will be posted in the wombat stories section shortly.
Gypsy Wulff’s new book Turning Points in Compassion is a great read this Summer for those interested in the compassionate lives of animal advocate personalities around the world. The book can be ordered at: www.turningpointsincompassion_info
Steve is interviewed for his work as founder and president of the Animal Justice Party of Australia.
Possumwood had 10 rescues in November -a bit quieter than the previous month with 20 rescues. Steve was called to help a 20 kg Eastern grey (EG) kangaroo hit on the Kings highway. I met him as I was returning from the wildlife vet -Dr Howard Ralph at about midnight. Unfortunately this animal did not survive the night but at least he was safe and comfortable with analgesia, sedation and a soft, warm bed.
Benice -a helper at Possumwood dreads full moon as this is when in good weather the animals are more active and are injured on the roads. She had already moved five EGs off the road on the Federal Highway when she found a little 900g furless joey in one of the females pouches. It was Melbourne Cup Day and we named him Rafke after the poor brave horse who died as a result of that race. Rafke is doing very well. On her way home again that night at about midnight Benice rescued another poor MVA victim lying on the road on the Federal Highway. She was about 15 kg and also was brought back to Possumwood but did not survive the night.
Sophie was the next little joey to come into care. Another MVA orphan, her mother had severe injuries. Sophie was lucky that the ACT ranger who rescued her was one of the kind ones who will call a rescuer rather than bash or behead the orphan joeys as is the usual practice in the ACT. This practice is sanctioned by the Minister for Municipal Services – the only Greens MP in the ACT.
Donnelly-a 6 kg EG joey was rescued by Steve from a fence – hanging by one leg. Luckily his hip was not dislocated but we have concerns regarding the ischaemic injury to his foot. A sad little joey he would often call his mother when he first arrived.
Martin – an 8 kg EG joey was rescued from a fence by Steve and Rosemary. Hanging by one leg on a very hot day he was lucky he had tree shelter. Martin is a very gentle, quiet boy who loves his bottles of formula.
Jimmy was rescued by Benice and named after Steve’s father as he arrived on his birthday. A 900 g EG joey he was also a MVA orphan.
Rodger raven was run over -straddled – by five cars before I could get him off the road. I was again on my way home from the vet on the Kings Highway not far from Possumwood. We kept Rodger quiet in a large cage overnight. Next morning Rodger was creating so much noise and commotion trying to get out when all the other birds came in for food and water very early that we said bye -bye Rodger and let him out. He gleefully flew away.
Tiny Terry turtle was also rescued near Possumwood. He was trying to cross a busy road. Again I was able to get him off the road before he was crushed. He was uninjured and with great gusto ran down the bank and plunged into the water in the large dam at Possumwood .
Cassandra – another MVA orphan, was rescued by Benice. A beautiful 800 g female EG joey, Cassandra had an injury at the tarsometatarsal joint and the pull of the Achilles tendon was causing deformity of the calcaneus. The ankle was strapped to counteract the pull of the Achilles and she saw Dr Ralph the next day and her ankle was splinted. She is doing well.