Jowajilla Wildlife Refuge is a 150-acre pre-release/soft-release site in Mareeba, Queensland that cares for eastern grey kangaroos, wallaroos and rock wallabies. I spent a week with Jen learning what it’s like to work with these animals and see them successfully released into the wild.
Jen has been a carer for many years and has raised all kinds of orphaned and injured wildlife. While I was visiting, most of the animals in care were old enough to be outside all the time. Only one stayed inside the house in her pouch. The others, who were older, spent the night in the wild and would rock up early in the morning for a bottle.
Jowajilla is many kilometers away from major roads and cars making it the perfect site to reintroduce animals into the wild. The area around the main house is natural with a creek and rolling hills in the distance. There are mobs of wild wallabies and kangaroos in the area that welcome the newbies with open arms.
Life here appears to be perfect for the young kangaroos. They have the freedom to come and go as they slowly move toward independence. But, they also have the support and love from Jen when they need it. Also, not many people are allowed at the sanctuary as the roos slowly detach themselves from humans and step closer toward being completely wild.
It’s obvious that Jen is passionate about her mission to help macropods. Her nurturing builds confidence in these orphans, which allows them to become stronger and increase the likelihood of survival in the wild. She is patient and persistent when they are scared. She showers them with affection and provides them with safety during an uncertain time.
Jowajilla Wildlife Refuge is just one of many wildlife sanctuaries throughout Australia that are working hard to save native wildlife. Like many of these shelters, it receives no funding or support from the Australian government (state or national) and is run entirely by volunteers. The work of carer’s like Jen is important and should be more fully supported by everyone.