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 .