From Christina: Recently Cassandra Shaw was featured as the guest author at Seasons of Love. She wrote about her personal experiences in wildlife rescue in her native Australia. I was so moved by the post, I asked her permission to share it with readers here. Thank you, Cassandra!
by Cassandra Shaw
Two decades ago I followed one of my dreams and became involved in something that took time, money, and most certainly my heart.
I started caring for (raising, rehabilitating and releasing) Australian wildlife.
In my part of Australia, what is known as South East Queensland, caring for wildlife means kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, possums, gliders, flying foxes, and bats, and many types of birds, lizards, and snakes. (Wombats are from further south so we missed out on these marvelous little fellows).
I stuck with kangaroos, wallabies and possums as the other species often take more specialized care, although we do rescue these and hand them on.
Raising an orphaned joey is a long term commitment, up to two years for an Eastern Grey Kangaroo if the joey comes into care young enough.
Many joeys come into care because the mother has been hit by some sort of vehicle. Most native Australia mammals are marsupials so if there is a young joey it is can still be in their mom’s pouch alive. I was constantly amazed at how mangled the mother could be and yet we’d find a bonny joey in the pouch.
I have extracted a live joey from a corpse that was fly-blown and stinking. Yes, the joey stunk (like nothing I want to re-smell), and yes, she was dehydrated and starving. But a wash (or six), warm marsupial milk and some vet help for the dehydration all saw her through. She was released as an adult healthy Eastern Grey Kangaroo eighteen months later.
One little Agile Wallaby (we lived further north then) we found lying on the road. We saw his dead mother at the side and suspect he’d been thrown out of her pouch from the impact of the car hitting his mom.
He looked dead, but I got out of the car to move him off the road so no other creature died trying to eat his remains. I picked him up and he twitched.
Life is hope. Wrapped warmly in a blanket (we carry rescue equipment with us) within minutes, the little fellow came awake. He’d been unconscious and would not have survived if we hadn’t stopped.
We also love rehabilitating injured adult animals. In fact, we often find this the most rewarding.
I cared for ones hit by cars who sustained broken jaws, possums (ringtail and brushtail) that had been electrocuted on electricity lines, and even a swamp wallaby old momma that the vet thought had had a stroke as she’d been left partially paralyzed. She couldn’t be safely put back into the wild so she lived with us.
Sunny basked in the outside sun of our yard, ate the food she loved. Considering she’d been wild, she loved her chest being scratched and adapted very quickly to sleeping on a soft warm bed inside our garage.
She was sweet and loving and enjoyed the last twelve months of her life in her retirement home. One night she died quietly in her sleep, and we were devastated.
It’s not all love and cuteness, although there’s lots of that.
Caring for wildlife is hard work, expensive, messy, and … often addictive.
If the joey is really young I often have to wake 3 hourly to feed it with special formula suitable for marsupials (there are some great products available now). Joey’s have fragile systems and some die (for many and various reasons) and no matter what or how many I’ve raised the wrenching heartbreak of these losses never diminish.
But then I’ve always believed that if you don’t love your little charges then you shouldn’t raise them. You fight harder for something you love.
With losses also come miracles. There is nothing better when you are told an animal won’t make it and they do.
Wildlife care is not for the faint hearted.
I’ve seen some horrific injuries that I won’t describe, and have had to find a way to have animals humanely put down. Bagging an injured fully grown Eastern Grey Kangaroo who’s scared and bigger than you is dangerous work (there is of course normally more than one of us doing this). Koalas that are sick or injured are terrified and will try to run away or attack. I’ve never been badly injured, but I know some people who have. They might not be tigers or bears, but they are wild creatures. We can never forget that.
Then there is the time. My husband and I once spent hours and several days going to a lady’s house to trap a Kookaburra (bird) who had somehow had his bottom beak broken off so he couldn’t eat. We caught him using a washing basket, string on a stick, and some meat as bait. Hunger caught him for us.
I’ve had people tell me I and the other carers are wonderful but I don’t think we are. We do what we love and get a great deal out of it. As far as I am concerned, no act of kindness is without gain.
We are rewarded with love and by getting to understand each species and individual’s personality. And then when we release an animal on our land we are further rewarded by a mother coming back to show us her joey. I’ve also had ones released long ago come back for help when sick or injured. They remember.
Over the years I’ve been frustrated by ignorance and lack of empathy by officials, but met many passionate people.
In the end there is nothing more rewarding than raising an animal the right way and releasing them to live free in the wild. (There is a way to do this, that is a slow gentle approach)
So if you love animals, get involved in your area’s wildlife rescue group – even if you can’t be a carer you can help raise funds and awareness.
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Cassandra L Shaw was a child of passion who prayed she was secretly Dr. Dolittle. She loved all animals and bugs with a fierce devotion that has carried into her writing. Most of her stories –be they paranormal, futuristic, fantasy, or suspense – have humorous roles for her character’s pets. These pets are often named after her own beloved dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, ducks and birds.
Tina, Tit Tit, Bones, Willow, Falcor, and Asha are already in her first book, and there will be more. She’s pinky promised her pets immortality, so they will have it!
With a passion for fashion, Cassandra’s fun quirky female characters like to wear Goth one day, fifties dresses the next, or imaginary witch capes and wands. Her hot, muscled male characters wear tight clothes to best show off their … err … attributes.
Hey, what’s a hero and romantic lead if he isn’t hot??
If you don’t like having a giggle while Cassandra’s heroes and heroines fight evil and other bad guys, discover themselves, eat well, and enjoy a good taste of life, lust, and love then Cassandra’s stories aren’t for you.
At home on her small farm in Queensland Australia, demons, monsters, aliens, futuristic worlds, sexy men, and hot sex scenes nestle happily amongst the housework Cassandra pretends doesn’t need doing.
Cobwebs are soooooo chic, her family think so too. HONEST.