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Our wildlife hospital is here!!

***EXCITING NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT!!!*** Drumroll please! We are absolutely thrilled to let you all know that today was a very special day for everyone at Bonorong….BECAUSE OUR WILDLIFE HOSPITAL ARRIVED!!!…Well the building part anyway!!

We know we still have a long way to go, but even just getting the building here has been 5 years in the making, and as many of you would know, those 5 years have been met with many hurdles, road blocks, grey hair & of course blood, sweat and tears!

We couldn’t have got to this point without all the amazing people that have rallied behind this project. And to the hundreds of people that have given donations, whether it has been two dollars or two thousand dollars, every little bit has helped – so thank you!! :)

We have many many more thank yous (of course!), but we would like to make special mention to our incredible large donors that have raised $15,000+ to the project. These amazing organisations and people are: International Fund for Animal Welfare - IFAW, Linda’s “Helping Hands” Fundraising Group, Peter Hill, and DIER– what an amazing effort from you all! Words just aren’t enough.

We would also like to specially thank GB McGregor Portables for their incredible patience holding the building for us in their warehouse, while we tackled many of those above-mentioned “hurdles” – you guys are fabulous!

So the next chapter of the journey now begins as we start the hospital fit out, building of the deck, sourcing relevant materials and final pieces of hospital equipment…but at least we are edging closer to being open and operational (pardon the pun!)

Once we are getting closer to having the second chapter complete (eg getting close to opening!) we will be organising an official opening of the hospital where you will all be able to come and help celebrate with us and have a sticky beak inside! So watch this space for more news on that! :)

So hooray to getting one step closer to providing the first solely dedicated wildlife hospital in Tasmania…doesn’t our precious wildlife deserve it?! YAY!

Enjoy the photos below taken today thanks to Eric Woehler, Barrie Irons, Bernadette Camus & Liz Pulo.

Farewell, Tina!

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Our beloved Tina wombat, putting her best paw forward!

Last week the Bonorong team farewelled this gorgeous girl as she went off to her release site. Reports are that she's doing very well!

Although saying goodbye is always hard, it is also incredibly rewarding to see animals we have helped save be returned to the wild.

Photo thanks to Bernadette Camus.

Randall’s in torpor! But what does that mean?

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If you’ve visited the Sanctuary lately you may have noticed a few animals are ‘missing in action’... Randall the Echidna, our snakes and our blue tongue lizards have noticed the colder weather and gone into torpor.

What is torpor? Torpor is probably more well known as ‘hibernation’ - but hibernation is only used if the animal goes into torpor in winter. If it was summertime, it’d be known as ‘aestivation’. It helps animals survive periods of reduced food availability.

Torpor is simply state when the body temperature, metabolism, respiration and heart rate are lowered...so basically an energy saving mechanism! Torpor enables animals to survive periods of reduced food availability.

Although our lovely residents don’t have to worry about food, it’s completely natural for them to go into torpor when it gets colder.

Where do the animals go? Our snakes enjoy cozying up under their rocks (where the winter sun keeps them nice and warm), our blue tongues move up to the Bush Tucker Shed verandah where they have three snug enclosures, and Randall has a few warm hidey holes in his enclosure that he will snuggle up in.

Randall, now in his 3rd year with Bonorong, might have figured out he doesn’t have to sleep all through winter… occasionally you’ll see him pop out of his den for a little mid-winter snack before tucking back in for another snooze. (Winter is also breeding time for echidnas… so don’t be surprised if you see them out and about!)

What a life!

When will they come out again? There’s no exact date -- they’ll all come out when they feel it’s warm enough -- usually late spring or early summer.

Jasper’s monthly update: June

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Can you believe we’ve had Jasper two months already? Neither can we. This little guy is growing big and strong, right to schedule - sitting at 1250g (doubling his weight since our last post!) and an estimated 6 months old.

He is covered in a layer of fine fur (about 1mm long) over most of his body, and his nose is almost completely brown now, although he’s still got those cute pink feet! His molars are well and truly here and those upper incisors are making themselves known.

He’s moved back to 5 feeds a day, allowing Linda a little bit of rest… and enough time to take on another baby wombat (more on that soon…)

If he was still with his mum at this point, he’d be starting to poke his head out of the pouch to check out what’s going on, but not venturing out further yet.

And if you watch his feet closely, you’ll see him make a “kneading” motion with his little feet when drinking. You might recognise this as an action that kittens often carry into adulthood:

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Well, wombats do it too - and for the same reason! As a little one in the pouch, it helps get Mum’s milk production going. Thankfully, wombats don’t carry that habit into adulthood… that would be one scratched up mum/human.

As you can see, he’s developing into a handsome little boy - quickly winning everyone’s heart here at Bonorong!

**WINK**

Stay tuned for more Jasper updates next month.

Shy Albatross - from Poatina to Tasman Peninsula

Shy Albatross photo by Eric Woehler
Shy Albatross photo by Eric Woehler

You may have heard in the news recently that a Shy Albatross was found a long way from home: in Poatina, up north.

Thanks to a dedicated member of the public, the Animal Medical Centre in Launceston and our rescuers, we were able to transfer the albatross (nicknamed “Alby”) at our seabird rehabilitation centre in Brighton and give him the rest and rehabilitation he needed.

A young albatross, Alby would have only been around 6 months old when he encountered his first storm, and we believe that’s how he got so off path.

After a few days to regain his confidence, some good food and plenty of time in our seawater pool, Alby was ready for his release back to the wild with a little help from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys.

Correction - Friday 20 May 2016: 

We incorrectly said that Alby was found roadside in Poatina, however this is not the case. Ongoing gale force winds forced Alby into the Tamar River valley in northern Tasmania. He was found alive but tired on the shore some 40km from the open sea, and was rescued from this location.

Unable to find a vet or wildlife clinic late in the afternoon, Alby accompanied his rescuer home to Poatina, in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, more than 80km inland. The next day he was delivered safely to the Animal Medical Centre in Launceston who passed Alby on to us at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary for rehabilitation and release.

 

Do you dream of working with animals?

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Intakes are now open for our internships!

One of Bonorong’s biggest strengths, and something we are extremely proud of, is our standard of animal husbandry and professionalism.

Bonorong created two nationally-recognised training programs in partnership with TasTAFE.

"Being able to complete the Certificate II in Animal Studies through the Internship at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary was definitely a life changing experience.

I was able to learn what it meant to be a zookeeper whilst getting hands on training in the workplace. The team at Bonorong were incredibly helpful and friendly making the experience very worthwhile.

I had always thought about working with animals and the 10 weeks spent learning to care for them just made me want to pursue zoo keeping as a career more than ever!"

- Kate Baker.

If you’d like to pursue your passion, head on to our website to find out what’s involved and how to apply.

Meet Jasper, our newest baby wombat.

Let’s face it: baby wombats are pretty cute. Of all the marsupials out there, they are the one that get people swooning every time. But as we discovered in our recent profile of carer Linda, they’re also hard work to raise! We thought we’d share the journey of one little wombat with you - from rescue to release, right here on this blog. It’ll be a multi-year process, but we’ll update you every couple of months.

But let’s start with an introduction. Everyone, meet Jasper.

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Jasper came to Bonorong on the 24th of April 2016, after his mother had been hit by a car. Sadly his mum passed away, but a wonderful person had stopped to check her pouch (which is so important to do), and little Jasper was found.

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The first few weeks with a joey wombat are so important - and sadly not all joeys will survive the trauma of being separated from their Mum so soon.

Jasper was lucky to be found early and placed with a registered and qualified wildlife carer (the lovely Linda), who has been giving him around the clock care.

Weighing only 430g when found, he was estimated to be around four months old. At this age, Jasper had a little layer of fur on his ears, had just started opening his eyes and his lips were opening, allowing him to detach from his Mum’s teat.

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Since being with Linda he’s grown to a healthy 637g, has a fine layer of fur all over his body, and his lower incisor teeth have well and truly come through! (You can see the start of his upper incisor teeth in the photos). He is on 3-hourly feeds, which means Linda is up during the night to ensure he gets all the nutrients his little body needs.

Jasper would have had up to another four months (eight months on average!) in Mum’s pouch before emerging, so Linda keeps him warm and safe in her handmade pouches. She goes through about 6 pouches a day as she keeps Jasper fed and clean. (What goes in must come out!)

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Jasper is truly a lucky little boy - and testiment to the importance of stopping to check the pouch if you do happen to find an injured or deceased marsupial.

We’re looking forward to sharing more of Jasper’s development with you as he grows - keep an eye on our blog for more!

*Tiny fist bump*
*Tiny fist bump*

Shearwater season is underway!

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Shearwater season is well & truly underway at the Sanctuary with our 30th Short-tailed Shearwater coming into care overnight.

All of these birds have come in for some R&R over the past fortnight, most of them usually only needing to spend 3-4 days in our care.

There has also been another 43 birds that have been rehabilitated by dedicated wildlife carers based in the north and south. So all up that is over 70 birds that have come in for assistance so far - quite a feat for all involved!

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For those who aren't aware of Shearwater season, at this time of the year these migratory seabirds are leaving Tasmania to fly an astonishing 15,000km journey to the Arctic region.

They will stay in the Arctic for around 6 months feeding up & then in September they will fly that mere 15,000km journey again to return back to Australia to breed.

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The Shearwaters we are seeing at the moment are mainly chicks that are taking off for the first time (and quite often crash land) or they are just underweight & dehydrated.

Even though it is a very busy time at Bonorong looking after so many birds at one time, it is very rewarding to know we are helping them start their incredible journey.

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Photos thanks to Geoff Swan.

Can count? Love birds? Read on!

Pacific Gull photo copyright Eric Woehler
Pacific Gull photo copyright Eric Woehler

The annual BirdLife Tasmania Winter Gull Count will be conducted on Sunday 12 June 2016 - the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend - and they’d love your help!

The count will start at 9:00am and most should finish by 12 noon, and no later than 1:00pm.

The count covers coastal areas between the southern d'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island northward to New Norfolk and eastward to Marion Bay and the Forestier and Tasman Peninsulas.

These counts were initiated by the late Dr Bill Wakefield in 1980, and, with a brief hiatus in the early 1990s, have continued to the present, which makes this the longest data set for gulls in Australia.

The 2016 Winter Gull Count will be the 33rd count for south-east Tasmania and the survey effort extends over approximately 400 kilometres of coastline.

The counts provide a valuable long-term signal on the state of the silver, kelp and Pacific gull populations in southeast Tasmania.

A detailed analysis of the data was published in an international journal, with colleagues from CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology contributing - the paper is available on the BirdLife Tasmania website here.

No prior experience with gulls is required - the count package distributed to all participants comprises an instruction sheet, an identification guide and the data sheet.

All results are circulated to all participants, Councils and other land managers such as PWS. BirdLife Tasmania is committed to sharing the results of all surveys and monitoring efforts.

Please contact Eric Woehler for more details.

Contact

Eric Woehler eric.woehler@gmail.com

Quolls, quolls, everywhere!

As part of the Tasmanian Quoll Conservation Program, we work with organisations in Tasmania and on the mainland to ensure a genetically diverse captive breeding population and eventual release into the wild for these beautiful animals. Just in time for breeding season, we recently had a shuffle of our Eastern Quolls - sending two of our male quolls from last year’s breeding season up to Mt. Rothwell Conservation and Research centre, and another two up to Devil’s Ark.

While Devil’s Ark is a new addition to the program, we’ve been working with Mt. Rothwell for quite a few years now & they have a number of quolls in their breeding program originally from Bonorong. They are no doubt enjoying their new life amongst 420 hectares!

We also received two lovely male quolls (Aster & Tarra) from Trowunna Wildlife Park (which is in the north of the state). These two lucky boys will be paired with our female quolls for this breeding season.

Aster, our new male Eastern Quoll from Trowunna, peeking out while we cleaned his temporary enclosure.
Aster, our new male Eastern Quoll from Trowunna, peeking out while we cleaned his temporary enclosure.

And while they’re not a part of the breeding program, we were also the recipient of two young male spotted-tail quolls for our display.

Named Romulus and Remus (yes, we like a bit of ancient roman mythology here), these guys are taking over the job of educating our guests about our spotted-tail quolls in the wild.

So next time you drop by, be sure to say hello to all our new additions… and fingers crossed, many more new additions coming soon if breeding season goes to plan!

A day with “Chief Wombat Cuddler” Linda Tabone

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We’re standing in kitchen of Linda Tabone: Bonorong’s very own “Chief Wombat Cuddler”, as she prepares afternoon meals for two wombats in her care.

After seeing all the fuss about Derek the Wombat from Flinders Island and the resulting competition to become a “Chief Wombat Cuddler”, we wanted to see what being a wombat carer is really all about.

“I always wanted to be a wildlife carer,” Linda says. “For years I wanted to do it. But it wasn’t until we moved here [near Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary] that it was possible.”

She took the advice of the Sanctuary Director, Greg Irons, and registered with DPIPWE before undertaking carers training.

“I’m glad I did that training before I took in any animals” Linda says, “I had no idea how much time and money -- not to mention resources -- go into getting it right.”

Her first few years were filled with pademelons and Bennetts wallabies, animals often considered “training wheels” for new carers, with the time commitment ranging from 3 to 12 months, and the outdoor enclosures (relatively) easy to create.

Wombats, her first animal love, only started coming into her care three years ago, when she felt she was ready and had enough support.

One of Linda's three outdoor wombat enclosures.
One of Linda's three outdoor wombat enclosures.

“With macropod joeys [animals in the kangaroo family] you must allow them to ‘go wild’ when they stop bottle feeding. By the time they are ready for release, you basically have nothing to do with them whatsoever,” says Linda.

“A wombat joey is totally the opposite: you have to be Mum to them and tend to their needs right up until they’re 2 years old - and they’ll tell you when they’re ready, which is what they do with their wombat Mum in the wild.

“You actually don’t back off from them at all - they’ll back off from you, and that’s a really good thing.”

But the time commitment is not all: you’ll also have an energetic, burrowing bundle of joy in your care. “The enclosures have to be dug down 700mm - otherwise they’ll burrow out and go exploring. I swear they have a sixth sense for gaps in the fences. And don’t get me started on their love of cables...”

Back in the kitchen we’re facing the reality of being a wombat carer, with Linda reflecting on the passing of a furless (“pinky”) joey wombat last year, which came into Linda’s care after her mother was hit by a car. Weighing only 130 grams when she was rescued, her chances of survival were low.

At such a small size, she needed to be fed every two to three hours and kept at a regulated temperature at all times. Linda was lucky to obtain a humidicrib, which provides the temperature stability and ensures she can take on such young joeys.

“For a new wombat joey, one feed can take up to an hour… so by the time you finish the feed, check in with the other little ones, put on a load of washing… you’re back feeding again.”

Emy helping Linda with afternoon feeds.
Emy helping Linda with afternoon feeds.

With wombat mothers feeding their young until they are 15 months of age in the wild, Linda works to a strict schedule to ensure no one misses out. In her care at home are two young wombats: Maria and Tara, and four of her older wombats live in an enclosure at Bonorong: Jasmine, Maggie, Fisher and Tina.

“I come up and visit Jasmine, Tina, Maggie and Fisher twice a day, Jasmine is still on bottles but Tina, Maggie and Fisher have weaned themselves,” she says. “Then Maria is on four feeds a day, and Tara is on three feeds a day. It doesn’t stop!”

“If I didn’t have [my husband] Emy, I don’t know what I’d do. You have to have backup to work as a carer. Emy helps me feed, helps keep the house clean, builds and cleans enclosures… if I didn’t have his support, I wouldn’t be able to take on as many animals as I do. Not to mention the support and expertise of other carers. It’s vital to have that.”

Maria tucks into some carrots as she begins to learn about solid food.
Maria tucks into some carrots as she begins to learn about solid food.

So, is it a career worth pursuing?

Linda laughs, “Well, it’s not paid you know. Everything… we cover it ourselves. The enclosures, the food, the formula, the vet bills, a humidicrib if you’re going to take on pinkies… no one pays you to do this. It’s thousands of dollars a year… you really have to be passionate about it!”

“If you can dedicate your time to the animal and you don’t have, say, a full time job, or kids, are planning to go on holidays or other commitments… and you go through the training and register with the [appropriate government] department, sure.”

“People really need to understand - you can’t just pass animals around from carer to carer if something crops up. They’ve already lost their Mum once - to think of them losing their ‘second mum’ as well is just heartbreaking. You have to be prepared to take the animal in your care from the moment it arrives until you release it.”

But to release them back into the wild and know they’ll be okay…. That’s pretty amazing.”

And what about those cuddles?

“You have to remember native animals are not pets - so you don’t get cuddles like you would a cat or a dog. The end goal is for the animal to be released back to the wild where it belongs. So cuddles? Not so much. Beautiful moments? Absolutely.”

No cuddles? Us? Surely not!
No cuddles? Us? Surely not!

Citizen Science: Help create Australia's first feather map

Dr Kate Brandis Barmah Forest Vic 2015

Love birds and wetlands? You can help The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the University of NSW (UNSW) with their citizen science project: the Feather Map of Australia.

The aim of the initiative is to understand and improve the health of wetlands and wetland birds across Australia by collecting feathers that have been dropped by birds. (Yes - you do need to leave any feathers ON birds attached to their owner!)

Feathers and other animal artefacts are often protected, however you can see all the details of the project, including where to send your collected feathers, on the Feather Map of Australia website.

Ranger Bob visits Campbell Street Primary

Bob Campbell St Primary

We love providing the younger generation with the tools and education they need to assist our wildlife. Schools are welcome to book in “Ranger Bob” to come to their school to talk about the importance of looking after our wildlife. We do charge a small fee for Bob’s time, but some schools go above and beyond and fundraise for us to coincide with a visit.

One such school is Campbell Street Primary! Ranger Bob recently stopped by to collect the awesome $260 they raised to help us help more animals. What champions!

If you’d like Ranger Bob to visit your school, just drop us a line!

Why do wombats do cube-shaped poo?

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One of our favourite facts about wombats (okay, maybe it’s only a favourite for a few of us!) is that their poo is cube shaped. Yes - really!

For the record, baby wombats don’t drop tiny cubes, they all look pretty standard until the wombat reaches maturity at around 18 months.

Recently we came across an article on The Conversation about why and how wombats are so special in this area - I mean, if you’re going to be stacking your waste, you want to have a good reason for it, right?

Find out more at The Conversation.