Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kangaroos, Wombats & Devils, Oh My!

Proud mum and her joey!
I finally got to see (and touch) kangaroos! Over the weekend I got to go to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Brighton. It's a pretty small sanctuary, but hey it's only Tassie so how big could it get? There was a whole field for the kangaroos to roam and relax in. We got to hang out with them and feed them for as long as we wanted. It was like heaven, I didn't want to leave! They are very friendly and when you rub their chest they get really excited and start rubbing their head against you, sort of similar to cats. :) We even got to see a mum kanga and her joey sticking out of the pouch. I was afraid that she would be very defensive and not let us get close to her, but she would let us touch her and just stood there showing off her baby.

Special moment with a little roo =]
After hanging out with the kangaroos, we got a tour of the sanctuary guided by a volunteer. She showed us the baby wombat first. Since sanctuaries are there to help the animals, they often get orphaned babies. Most of the time a mum is hit by a car, but her baby can stay alive in her pouch for some time after she dies. So if the driver has any heart and checks to see if they hit a mum, the baby can still be saved and taken to a place like Bonorong. Anyway, we got to meet an orphan, Digger. They made her a pouch out of warm blankets and she has a care taker who acts as her mum. When she gets big enough, though, she will revolt against the folks and become independent. After some time and careful preparation she will be released into the wild.

Digger the baby wombat keeping warm in her pouch

Feeding time for the little devils,
they eat dead meat...mmmm
The majority of the rest of the land was for the Tasmanian Devils. If anyone has ever wondered why they are called Tasmanian Devils, it's because of the sound they make when they defend their territory. It's a lot like what you would expect to hear in an exorcism (pretty scary). I didn't know this before I went, but Tasmanian Devils are in danger because of a facial tumour disease which is very easily spread seeing as they eat bones and bite each other's faces all the time. Since they are now on the endangered species list, Bonorong is working to breed healthy devils and provide a safe home for them until more is known about the disease. It's sad that the species is in danger, but it is pretty cool that I can say I saw heaps of them being helped. They may not be the cutest animals, but believe it or not they do grow on you.

"Where's my tree? Fetch me some leafy (&toxic) eucalyptus"
After we got to watch the devils fight over wallaby meat, it was time to meet the Koala. They only have a couple Koalas at Bonorong, seeing as they are not native to Tasmania. I was just happy to finally see one so close. We did not get to hold her, because she was a bit frightened. We got to pet her bum though -- very soft and fluffy! I also learned why Koalas always look so sleepy. Mostly it is because they sleep for 22 hours out of a day, and in the time they are awake they eat as much as they can. Their diet, however, only gives them enough energy to be active for about 5 minutes a day. Oh, what a life. Koalas' brains are actually shrinking very slowly because of the lack of activity and nutrition they get. At least they are adorable.

The birds they had were very impressive. One cockatoo is 96 years old and talks to people. She will say things like Helllo and Polly want a cracker?, and was fetching "presents" for some people. There were two parrots next to the cockatoo there to entertain as well. They could do a great imitation of a telephone ringing, or if you did a good build up to a sneeze, they would both bob their heads and sneeze with you.

Beauty shot of one of the parrots.

I'm so glad I made it to Bonorong, and that the money I paid is going to rescuing wildlife in the area. It also just makes me more excited to go to Australia Zoo (Home of the Crocodile Hunter!) in Queensland over holiday. I can't believe that's coming up in 2 weeks! Time is really starting to fly by -- I'm almost half way done with the semester already.

More updates on Uni life soon -- cheers!

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