Nearly every day, the shelter rescues orphaned agile wallabies in Mission Beach as they face life threatening circumstances. When housing developments blocked their wildlife corridor, the wallabies refused to alter their paths. Instead, they continued along the well-worn route of their ancestors and ignored the fact that it was now a paved road. This increased the interaction between humans and nature. Unfortunately, when animals and humans (in cars) collide (literally), rarely does the agile wallaby come out the victor.
When wallabies become victims of car strikes, the damage can range from a glancing blow to complete annihilation. Oftentimes, the worst case is somewhere between, and the wallaby is left on the side of the road with a broken limb or back. The severity of the injuries force these animals to be euthanized.
In many cases when female wallabies are hit, the joey they carry in their pouches survive the impact. A mother’s instinct to protect her young is powerful, thus enabling us a better chance to save her baby.
The shelter receives many orphans, like Christine, per week. Sometimes we find them on our routine patrols of the neighborhood. Other times people in the community rescue the babies and bring them to the shelter wrapped in an old towel or blanket. It’s important to keep them warm because they can lose body heat extremely fast outside of their mother’s protective pouch.
Every effort is made to ensure their survival. When the orphans arrive at the shelter, they are thoroughly checked for abrasions, cuts, bruises and broken bones. The orphans come in all sizes, from very little (light pink skin, no fur with closed eyes) to those that are grown and fully furred. Sadly, sometimes even our best efforts are not enough.
Macropods, which include kangaroos and wallabies, are easily stressed and can die from myopathy, a disease that causes their muscles to stop functioning. One way to increase the odds of survival is to give the joeys an extra boost. Vitamin supplements help to decrease their stress and anxiety.
In some cases, the cure can be as easy as a healthy dose of love and affection. Macropods are family oriented and live together in mobs. They’re used to being social and forming bonds with one another. Once the orphans overcome the first life threatening dangers of stress and injury, they need heaps of love to keep them going.
The early days are just as traumatic for the carer as it is for the rescued joey. The little one constantly cries out for its mother and searches in vain for its mother’s teat. It will circle the pouch endlessly trying to find that comforting teat on which it can latch. The heartbreaking cries of the orphans are only bearable because you know that things will get better soon. But, orphans like Christine lift your spirits and urge you to continue on.