In the rescue spirit!

It’s been a very busy few months of wildlife rescues and we want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our volunteers for pulling out all stops to get those critters in need to help. We are constantly amazed by how patient, committed and generous you bunch are and we’re truly thankful to you all for making the rescue program possible.

As a lovely reward for all the work staff and volunteers put into making the Rescue Program work, Bonorong has been nominated for a UNAA World Environment Day Award. Winners are announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on June 5th so watch this space for more news!

To illustrate the work that makes the Rescue Program so special, we would like to share a video and below write up sent to us from one of our rescuers. We hope you enjoy it as much as we all did!

"Last Friday afternoon, after work, I travelled to Blackmans Bay to see if I could capture a kelp gull, tangled in fishing tackle, that had been eluding capture for quite some time. Seeing that she was still too mobile for straightforward capture, and not having a net, I used some bread from a local cafe to attempt to lure the bird. She had a squid jig snagged under one wing, and the fishing line wrapped tightly around both legs. I crawled, crept and walked after her as she was able to hop up and flap a couple of times to stay out of reach, over and over again. Hands and knees, knees and elbows, commando crawl for over 45 minutes. That's three quarters of an hour. It felt like 10 minutes. The gull eventually tired enough that I was able to quickly lunge, gently pin her down and pick her up, and walk to the car, bird under arm, honking angrily, amidst strange looks and concerned questions from numerous passers by. I drove to AHVEC with the gull scrabbling and rattling in the plastic crate which left me in little doubt that she was still spirited enough! The amazing staff at AHVEC used a bit of gas to subdue the bird, remove the fishing line and squid jig, and pronounced the bird fit for release that evening.

Releasing the gull back at Blackmans Bay was one of the most uplifting experiences I have ever had. Watch the video and you can imagine her thinking "Ooh! Wings! Wings! I can move my wings! Yep, full movement!" To make sure she was OK, I approached her, and she took flight. And kept flying, much further than necessary. I hope she's still OK, and that the swelling in her legs has subsided, and that the remnants of the wound under her wing has healed fully.

Many thanks for Greg and staff for providing the opportunities to interact with our wildlife like this. This was a happy ending, but certainly no more important than the many calls requiring injured marsupials, for example, to be transported for euthanasia.

I also learned that patience is a virtue, and to not give up on a rescue to soon.

I will remember this experience for the rest of my life, and am more keen now to continue to take on the challenges that arrive daily on my phone".  

Click here to watch the video link of the release.

Photo credit to Dr Eric Woehler

Farewell Miss Simpson

The day had finally come for one of our long term rehab patients to be released!

This was a rather special patient, a Snares Crested Penguin as a matter or fact, who was found on a beach in southern Tasmania badly injured a number of months ago. Her wounds were deep and were suspected to have been caused by a dog attack. She was very lucky to have been found in time and taken to a specialist vet for surgery. Once the surgery was done she was transferred to a wildlife carer whose expertise is in seabird rehabilitation. This wonderful carer looked after the penguin for the first 8 weeks (often the hardest, particularly with a bird so susceptible to infection).

Thanks to this carer the penguin was able to be transferred to Bonorong when it was deemed necessary for the bird to have access to a lager salt water swimming pool and stayed with us for the remainder of her time in rehabilitation.

Because of the nature of the penguin's wounds her feathers and skin were very traumatised and we had to wait for her to 'moult' before she could be released. Moult is the process that penguins will go through once a year to grow a new set of feathers that keep them waterproof. Penguins will usually go through their moult between the months of February to April and the process can take up to three weeks. Penguins are very vulnerable while they are moulting as the are not waterproof and must remain on land. Before going into the moult penguins will literally double their body weight, this is to survive the time they have to stay on land not being able to feed.

The penguin luckily went through a perfect moult and was given the all okay to be released! This was incredibly exciting news for all of the staff and everyone that had been involved in her long rehabilitation process.

On the day of the release, thirteen of the staff had extremely early starts to get to the release site by dawn, and with perfect weather conditions & a stunning sunrise everything came together just as we had hoped!

This photo below captures a magical moment of a perfect release and we wish 'Miss Simpson' (as she was affectionately known) a wonderful, long & happy life

Thank you to everyone that was involved in helping this penguin make a wonderful recovery, it is the amazing success stories like this that keep us all inspired to do so much more!

There is also this link to a short clip that we put together of the release, enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogv2WnhoCuM&feature=share

Are you killing the ducks with kindness?

Everyone loves ducks, well most people do anyway! And what do people like more then ducks? They love feeding ducks!! And how couldn't you when they are as cute as this little fellow?! But could you actually be killing them with kindness? Have a read of this great article put together by our Head Keeper Jason to re-think the duck feeding scene. "The feeding of ducks, in particular human foods like bread, can cause serious health and behavioural issues in individual birds. Bread does not provide ducks with the correct vitamins and nutrients that they require, but instead overloads them full of carbohydrates, proteins and salts. As a result ducks tend not to forage for their natural food, and often die at a younger age. The over-loading of carbs and proteins in younger ducks can lead to a condition known as "angel wing," where the wrist joints become distorted, resulting in permanent wing damage, loss of flight capabilities and therefore an early death, due to predators or not being able to feed correctly or migrate when food runs out in an area.

In addition to these impacts, old, stale, mouldy bread can harbour fungal spores. Ducks are susceptible to a condition called aspergillosis, which is caused by the build-up of fungal spores due to a suppressed immune system, which is most commonly caused by poor nutrition in wild ducks. Aspergillosis is fatal and can be spread to other birds, especially if it enters waterways. The feeding of ducks leads individual ducks to be de-sensitised to potential threats by taming, and this increases their chance of being hit by cars and attacked by dogs.

Many, and in some cases, all of the ducks that are getting fed around Tasmania are introduced species such as the Northern Mallard, Muscovy ducks and hybrid black-mallards. Mallards and Muscovy ducks have become established in several areas and are a feral species. These species out-compete native Tasmanian species such the Pacific Black Duck and Australian Wood Duck. Feeding non-native ducks allows them to grow faster, leading to both higher reproduction rates and greater duck survival rates. These increasing populations then move into native duck territories and begin to out-compete them for natural food sources and roosting sites. Areas where ducks are fed regularly soon become overcrowded, and other non-native species such as rats, mice, starlings and sparrows become attracted to the area also. This leads to increased disease transmission.

Possibly the least known issue is probably the greatest. The feral Northern mallard mentioned above is closely related to our native Pacific black duck. The two species can therefore cross breed to produce mallard-black duck hybrids. Purebred Pacific black ducks are rapidly becoming less common because of this interbreeding.

The next time you are visiting an area that is home to ducks, instead of feeding them, take a seat and watch them go about their daily business. Ducks can get up to all kinds of mischief, and we guarantee that watching them and trying to identify the different species of Tasmanian native ducks can be just as enjoyable for the family!"

Christmas time at Bonorong!

With Christmas literally just around the corner, everyone at Bonorong knows just how hectic this time of the year can be! We have certainly had a busy few weeks with lots of extra animals coming in to care (particularly of the feathered variety) due to the wild weather Tasmania has been having. With just an unbelievable 5 sleeps until Christmas we are sure there are a lot of you feeling very excited but also running around trying to get all your final Christmas bits and pieces sorted!

We are certainly getting in to the festive spirit here at Bonorong and even our enrichment activities have taken a Christmas theme! These beautiful 'animal friendly' wreaths were made by one of our amazing volunteers Linda!

The 'cocky wreaths' are made from grass, native flowers, pinecones, honey nectar mix and different seeds all bound together. We tested them out on our three resident Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and they absolutely loved them!! We will be giving a lot of our resident animals variations of these wreaths on Christmas Day, so if you come out for a visit you will get to see them demolishing their Christmas treats!

We also thought it might be a good time to let you know that if you are looking for a gift that gives twice then just like last year we have our 'Christmas Tree Gift Appeal' going again! You can buy a beautiful little Christmas gift tag to hang on the tree at home and then we keep one here at Bonorong with your name on it to show that your supported our wildlife hospital appeal! Not quite what you were after? We can also do gift vouchers or why not just come and have a browse in our beautiful gift-shop to find that perfect present?

Bonorong is open every day of the year including Christmas Day! Our trading hours of Christmas day will be between 9am-4pm so come out for a visit this festive season! Have a Merry Christmas everyone!! :)

Is this the most adorable creature in the world?

Puggles - one of the most adorable creatures on our planet. Prepare for a cuteness overload!!!

This beautiful bundle of joy is a 'puggle' which is the name used for a baby Echidna or Platypus. This happens to be a Short-Beaked Echidna puggle and it is actually very rare to see them at this age as mother Echidnas dig nursery burrows deep under ground to hide their babies away safely.


This little puggle sadly was discovered by a roaming dog and we suspect that it was dug up from its burrow. It was found in the dogs mouth but amazingly only had superficial injuries and was in good body condition. We unfortunately were unable to locate where the nursery burrow was located so this (soon to be) prickly little character has come in to our care as an orphan.

At this size the puggle is only about 6-7 weeks old and hasn't opened its eyes yet. It will be in care for another several months before eventually being released back in to the bush at a safe location close to were it was found.

Please remember how important responsible pet ownership is by not letting dogs roam outside your property and to also walk dogs on a lead in bush areas to reduce incidents like this happening. Dogs and wildlife can live in harmony but humans need to lead the way.

Birds, wonderful birds!

A lot of you would know that Bonorong has recently built a wonderful 'Seabird Rehabilitation Facility' that has been desperately needed in Tasmania. The enclosure (complete with a large salt water swimming pool) has been designed so that it is big enough to be able to successfully rehabilitate a wide array of species but more importantly can accommodate large seabirds such as albatross, giant petrels and crested penguins too. This year we have had the privilege of rehabilitating two species of giant petrel - one southern and one northern. These magnificent birds weigh in at around 5kg and have a wing span of approximately 2metres!

Both the petrels were successfully rehabilitated in our care and were released back to sea, which was an amazing experience for all involved! The picture below is of 'Crew' the northern giant petrel at his release site (just before he took off actually!) and what a charming, inquisitive character he was!

Our seabird rehabilitation enclosure is an off display area at the Sanctuary because we need to keep the birds away from humans while they recover in our care. The enclosure can be viewed from a distance though, so just check with the keepers what we have in rehab at the time of your visit.

And for all you bird lovers out there then please read the flyer below and follow the link to find out more info about the upcoming Bruny Island Bird Festival! It is on for four days at the end of October and there are some fantastic activities and talks for people of all ages to get involved with! You will be supporting a great cause and we are sure you will learn things about birds that you didn't know before! http://www.bien.org.au/

Lochie the lucky sugar glider

Who is that peeking from his hollow?! ...It would be one very lucky little Sugar Glider named Lochie!

This little guy was the victim of a cat attack and was actually in the cats mouth when he was saved...hence being very, very lucky.

Lochie was badly injured when he first arrived and we didn't think he would pull through but after several weeks of rehabilitation he looks like he is on the road to recovery!

Gliders are quite remarkable little critters, weighing in at only around 100g (fully grown!) and as their name suggests they have the ability to glide through the air for up to 100 metres if need be. This remarkable talent is due to a flap of skin called a 'patagium' that stretches between their hands and feet, almost like a little kite!

Sugar gliders have also been the discussion topic of some recent news articles to suggest that they may be affecting populations of Swift Parrots, an interesting read if you didn't see it. http://theconversation.com/sugar-gliders-are-eating-swift-parrots-but-whats-to-blame-19555

Bonorong has a small resident colony of gliders that you can see whilst visiting. They are highly nocturnal though so the best time to see them zipping around their enclosure is on one of our guided night tours.