Stories of survival
The animals are what makes Bonorong special, we all know that. But what makes it extra, super amazing are the stories our animals bring with them. Here are a few, some of them silly, some of them sad. But all of them make us proud of what we have achieved with your help.
Her mother’s last gift to Thumper was to absorb the impact of the car that hit them. Then the little wombat dragged herself to the roadside and lay still.
Alone and frightened, Thumper crawled from her mother’s pouch and hid under a bush. The heat of the sun and the cold of night was slowly stealing her life away.
On the third day, as the sun went down, a local council worker noticed the mother lying beside the road. He looked in the pouch, but he didn’t find anything. Right then he could have shrugged, hopped into his car and driven off and Thumper wouldn’t have survived.
But he had noticed something…the teats in Thumper’s mum’s pouch were stretched out much longer than normal. This wombat had been carrying a joey.
The man searched in the gathering dark for more than half an hour. He finally found little Thumper, only the size of a grapefruit, soaked with dew and barely breathing.
Thumper’s exhausted state and dehydration made her recovery very difficult. She needed to be fed special milk from a bottle for almost a year after she arrived. Finally, 20 months after she was found, Thumper was released into a reserve near Campania.
Watching her being released, one of the Bonorong keepers whispered, “This is why I come to work every day.”
You can imagine our surprise when they arrived at the gate and handed us what appeared to be a Happy Meal! The attentive folk who noticed baby bettong Fry on the side of the highway had nothing in their car to contain the bouncy little roadkill orphan. So, thinking on their feet, they made a stop at a nearby popular fast-food chain and then wrapped him up in the brown paper bag. Lucky for Fry, Greg had already eaten his lunch. So Bianca, one of our keepers, looked after Fry until he was big enough to join our breeding program. Tasmanian bettongs are extinct on the Australian mainland because of the European red fox. Fry will father many young bettongs at Bonorong. These will help us ensure the future of this (now) uniquely Tasmanian species.
You can imagine our surprise when they arrived at the gate and handed us what appeared to be a Happy Meal!
The attentive folk who noticed baby bettong Fry on the side of the highway had nothing in their car to contain the bouncy little roadkill orphan. So, thinking on their feet, they made a stop at a nearby popular fast-food chain and then wrapped him up in the brown paper bag.
Lucky for Fry, Greg had already eaten his lunch. So Bianca, one of our keepers, looked after Fry until he was big enough to join our breeding program.
Tasmanian bettongs are extinct on the Australian mainland because of the European red fox. Fry will father many young bettongs at Bonorong. These will help us ensure the future of this (now) uniquely Tasmanian species.
Did you know that your cat can kill just by going to the toilet?
Bam-bam was a wallaby, hand-raised by Bonorong staff and released into the wild. Like millions of native animals across Australia, his mother was killed by cat poo.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that is carried in the intestines of cats. While it causes no harm to most people, it can be very dangerous to pregnant women. Unfortunately Australia’s native animals have very little defence against this disease. They can get it from eating grass or drinking water that a cat has used as a toilet any time in the past 18 months.
Of all the terrible things that humans and their pets inflict on our native creatures, ‘Toxo’ must be one of the worst.
The effects are horrific. Victims will commonly go blind and lose co-ordination. Unable to control the direction they are walking in, they will pace around and around in circles. The loss of eyesight makes the animal feel vulnerable so they are in a state of constant panic. They are literally being eaten alive by the parasite inside them. There is no effective treatment.
What can I do?
Thankfully there are things we can all do to help with the terrible problem of toxoplasmosis. Mostly they are the same rules that apply to all responsible pet owners.
- For your cat’s safety and the safety of our wildlife, don’t let your cat roam during the day or at night. Confine your cat to an outdoor cat run or keep it indoors, just as you would your dog.
- Fit your cat with a collar, two bells and an ID tag
- Get your cat de-sexed to avoid unwanted kittens and stray cats
- Teach your cat to always use a kitty litter tray. Then dispose of the litter thoughtfully (in the bin). The eggs that cause the infection are very hardy and can survive for up to 18 months in the environment. They can even survive being flushed down the toilet. Even whales have been known to be infected by Toxo which has come out of sewage pipes into the sea!
Rome-oo and Oo-leit – a Bonorong love story
One of his wings had been broken when the car had hit him. He was taken to a place where some green humans kept shoving meat into his mouth. They were nice to him but he really didn’t see much point in eating – what use is a bird who cannot fly?
Then one day the door to his enclosure opened. He looked up; it wasn’t time for him to be fed yet. It was one of the green people and she had a box. She opened the lid and out came the most beautiful frogmouth he had ever seen.
She had also been hit by a car and couldn’t see out of her left eye.
Over the next few weeks the male frogmouth’s wing started to get stronger. He started to feel hungry again and was eating lots of the food the people brought to him. But every time he came near his companion she would fly across to another branch, landing awkwardly because her eyesight wasn’t getting better. His wing was too weak to follow.
Then one day the green people came and took him to a big room. He sat on the person’s hand for a long time, wondering what was going on. They suddenly took their hand away and he was falling! Out of instinct he started flapping his wings. He couldn’t believe it when he stopped falling and started flying.
That night, when the girl flew away from him, he too flew across the enclosure. She was very impressed. She allowed him to cuddle up next to her on the branch.
The next day, just before dark he was given a really big feed. Then he was taken out of his enclosure again. She looked at him out of her good eye. They walked past the big room and the lid of his box was opened. He stood still for a minute before he saw a fat moth fly past. Out he flew, chasing the moth and landing on the branch of a nearby tree.
He found a nice, quiet tree close to his old enclosure. Every night he came and sat on the roof of the enclosure and he would sing to his lady – and she would sing back.
Then one day he looked down and realised that she was looking up at him … with both eyes. These two lovebirds can still be heard every evening calling “oo-oo-oo” in the Bonorong night. They also have a few special hiding places during the day. See if you can find them in the trees.
Whoever thought that eating moths could be dangerous?
Tawny Frogmouths love to feed on the moths that fly around in Tasmania’s dark night. They swoop down on silent wings and take the moths straight out of the air. Unfortunately the moths are attracted to car headlights, so frogmouths will often fly across roads as they hunt – not knowing that they are playing a very dangerous game of chicken.
We rescue dozens of these lovely birds each year after being hit by speeding cars. In Tasmania, try to avoid driving at night. But if you do – please drive slowly.
Kooka – The Third Egg
Kooka got up on the wrong side of the life. The day before he came into the world his mother laid two big, white eggs. The next day she laid one more, much smaller than the others – almost an afterthought.
Kooka had to fight his siblings for every scrap of food that his mother and father brought. But he just wasn’t big enough. One day they simply tossed him from the nest and he was left to die.
A family found him and decided to raise him as a pet. Before he learned to fly they clipped his wings. Unfortunately the family didn’t know that kookaburra’s have a very special diet. He became malnourished and weak. Then the family dog found him.
When Kooka came to Bonorong he was in a critical condition. His wings and tail had been very badly damaged by the dog – his feathers have never regrown. But somehow he survived.
This marvellous little bird lived at Bonorong for many years, keeping an eye on everyone that walked through the gates – a reminder to most of us that we hatched from the first two eggs.