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 .
Steve and Rosemary’s story
‘Dasher’ had lost her long time and inseparable companion ‘Rudi’ to cardiomyopathy – resulting from being chased by a dog.
For weeks Dasher ran expectantly back and forth to all the favourite places she had shared with her friend – the Casuarina embankment, ‘Rudi’s tree’ with its long shady branches, amongst the rose bushes and in amongst the violets calling out urgently . She pulled herself up high enough to look through every window of the house with the same sense of expectation she might find her friend.
As the weeks passed, the urgency of her searching changed to one of despondency. She refused to move from the back door mat hoping her friend would return. There was a deep sadness in her eyes, and on more than one occasion I am sure a tear could be seen to roll from misty eyes as the permanency of the loss began to be realised.
Dasher kept up a lonely vigil that echoed a deep sadness that seemed never to lessen. There were some poignant moments when she would hug tightly with her carer; pulling her head in closely for the comfort of a mother all orphans yearn for.
For wildlife carers these are special moments when time stands still. These are the times that make the effort of being a wildlife carer fulfilling. They are emotions that are often not revealed in the wild animal. They are moments of tenderness towards humans that are genuine and come from a soul that is ordinarily well hidden – a rare insight into the world of a wild animal.
I hear on the radio researchers have proven that animals express emotion. Wildlife carers know, if they spend an honest nearness with their charges, that such expression of emotion can be far more intense than any laboratory test could ever reveal.
Eventually, Dasher found another friend and happiness appeared to return for a while. She would be gone for days, and she could even be seen – if you looked closely – to have a new found spring in her hop as she kicked her legs from side to side. Perhaps even a joey might be possible for soon. However, Fate was to once again intervene in Dasher’s life. Like Rudi before him, Dasher’s new friend Bob also succumbed to cardiomyopathy likely resulting from a dog chase. At least for Bob the end came quickly, dying from a cardiac arrest in the vet’s surgery. The neighbour now prevents her dogs from harrassing the local wildlife but too late for poor Dasher .
So what became of dear Dasher. Did she ever recover from a twice-broken heart?
She was as beautiful as the music she was named after and a very lucky little joey. Elise was caught by her foot in a wire fence suspended off the ground on a hot afternoon. The wire had cut deeply into the skin proximal to the metatarsophalangeal joint( between the ankle and toe).
Just imagine how it must feel to be suspended upside down and unable to touch the ground to relieve the pull on your leg .The wire wound tightly around your leg cuts off the circulation and as you struggle to get free the wire cuts into your skin with every move. The soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves) is stretched and possibly a bone is fractured or a hip dislocated. Your mother is nearby and is distressed and not able to help. Then you are approached by a predator – in this case a human. No wonder myopathy can be a problem for kangaroos rescued from fences.
I examined Elise and fortunately she did not have a fracture or dislocation. She did have deep wire cuts down to the bone and these wounds were flushed with sterile saline, dressed with Manuka honey and then bandaged. She had a course of antibiotics and was given Vit E/ Selenium injections for three days to reduce the risk of myopathy. Her major problem was knuckling (the toe curling under) because of a sciatic nerve injury which results in an inability to dorsiflex (flatten) the foot. She also had an obturator nerve injury which made her unable to adduct her leg (bring the leg toward the body from the side). This caused her to have a frog-like hop with the leg sticking out to the side. A thick bandage over the metatarsophalangeal joint reduced the knuckling and protected the joint during recovery
If you rescue a kangaroo from wire fence entanglement and it cannot get up and hop don’t despair. If there is no fracture or dislocation the main problem is nerve damage which usually settles over a number of weeks. Even fractures and dislocations can be treated, although in larger animals dislocation can be problematic.
Elise made a full recovery. She has lived a free life on Possumwood now for about 10 years and we have the pleasure of seeing her most days . If you haven’t heard of Fur Elise (the piano solo by Beethoven) before it really is a beautiful piece of music – very soothing for both animals and humans.
Late in the afternoons the local kangaroo mob with their alpha male gather near our treatment centre in the hope they might get some additional feed. Most times we oblige and give them a bucket or two.This allows us to monitor our wild mob for sick or injured animals . For a few weeks we had noticed one of the mothers had a very large joey in her pouch and wondered why it had not yet emerged. The answer became clear one such evening.
Looking at the local mob we noticed the joey from the mother we had been watching had now emerged. But there was something wrong with it. One leg was deformed. This can sometimes happen if the mother has a fall or hits a wire fence and the small joey in the pouch suffers a fractured limb which heals with a deformity.
We called this little fellow ‘Tangles’. He would not survive in the wild with a leg so deformed. He could not possibly keep up with the mob and the leg would ulcerate and become infected . We had to rescue him immediately or he would be vulnerable to a predator the same night. He had one chance. Either he came into care or he would die. So we conceived a plan to catch the little fellow.
We very gradually approached the mob with the usual bucket of food spreading it in small piles. Rosemary inched her way toward the joey all the time spreading food for the mob. She managed to grab Tangles by the tail and he immediately roared and called his mother .
The mob went crazy as the joey cried out. The alpha male, who we knew well and affectionately called Captain charged at Rosemary. She had the joey by the tail in one hand and luckily still had the bucket in the other hand .She threw the tin bucket at Captain and this temporarily distracted him.Meanwhile little Tangles continued to roar and call his mother. Rosemary turned ,passed the joey to Steve and was clobbered by Captain from behind. Meanwhile Steve who was now hanging on to Tangles was being accosted by two females and then he had to fend off Captain but managed to hold on to the joey and make a run for the enclosure with Tangles in hand.Rosemary keeps her shredded thermal top as a memento of this interesting rescue.
Once inside the enclosure the mob settled down.We sedated Tangles and bandaged his leg which already was grazed from one day of hopping on the deformed leg.He would call to his mother in the evenings initially but eventually settled in and made friends with the other little joeys in care .We were impressed by the actions of the mob to protect the joey. Captain has never shown any aggression towards us at any other time .
Tangles had a healed mid shaft fracture of the tibia causing his leg deformity. He was only 6 kg and recovered well from his surgery and has now been released . He was the dominant male in the enclosure prior to release. Captain has now relinquished his position as dominant male and sleeps during the day under the trees near the house or enclosure .He is a wonderful gentle creature and we feel privileged that he has chosen to spend his retirement with us at Possumwood .
One of the joys of living with wild animals is going for a walk and having previously cared-for animals come over to you to say ‘hello’.
Recently Rosemary was out walking in the afternoon. It was windy and the local kangaroo mob were unusually nervous. Kangaroos don’t like the wind as it disturbs their vital senses of hearing and smell. But on this occasion the mob were even more nervous so she decided to look around the area to see what was upsetting them. She heard a commotion near one of the fences on the property some distance away from the treatment centre and went to investigate.
A small kangaroo joey was caught in one of the wire fences and was surrounded by a mob of around 20 highly agitated kangaroos . The joey roared and roared sending the mob into a frenzy. The joey’s mother fortunately was on the other side of the fence so she could be fended off as she came in to remonstrate with Rosemary as she approached quickly , lifted and held the joey to prevent it from dislocating its hip . The other anxious kangaroos crowded in quite close and were milling around as the joey continued to roar. With a lot of difficulty she was able to prise the wires apart with her fingers to release the joey’s foot. In an instant the joey slipped to the ground, hopped off to its relieved mother and somersaulted into her pouch. All the roaring ceased immediately and the mob just stood perfectly still and watched.The sudden quietness was astounding.
Rosemary sensed a presence close behind her and turned quickly thinking it might be the dominant male . Instead there was the beautiful ,serene face of Isabella ,one of our released kangaroos . She seemed to be reassuring Rosemary that all was well. Rosemary gently stroked Isabella’s face and felt quite safe and relaxed. On the other side of the fence she noticed Billy with a look of concern. Billy was another of our released kangaroos who we had not seen for several months. Both Isabella and Billy stayed close as the rest of the mob stood still and watched them long after things had settled down and the little joey was safe and happy with its mother.
One by one the kangaroos in the mob came in closer as Rosemary sat on the ground with Billy and Isabella.Now such a serene scene – it had been chaos to calm in a second.