These are true stories I have been lucky enough to witness, about some of the residents I have had in the shelter over the past 15 years. Each animal has his or her own personality, story to tell and a journey to travel... some have a happy ending, others don't, but still each creature has something to teach and a legacy left behind, at least in my heart.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when they unfolded right in front of my eyes!
Adela and Esperanza:
A very dear rescuer called me one night to tell me that she had just rescued a badly injured brushtail possum (Adela), who had been hit by a car and who had a baby girl in her pouch (Esperanza).
Adela was in a very bad condition, almost unresponsive and I thought that she would not make it, so I thought to keep her overnight with pain killers and take her next morning to my local vet to be assessed, expecting a not very good outcome.
I also thought that since Esperanza was probably going to be an orphan, I could pair her with Honey, another baby girl of similar size I had in the shelter, so they could grow up together as little sisters.
However, the moment I approached Esperanza to reach for her baby, she came back to life in a second and regained her strength to protect her little girl. Then I realised the power of maternal instinct and her will to live. She had a good reason!
Then I decided to keep them together but I had to feed Esperanza to save Adelas' energy going to milk production.
Giving Esperanza her first bottle was a magic moment. Somehow there was a connection and mum trusted me to feed her baby, but with a watchful eye all over me!
Next morning off we went to my vet, and thanks to his generosity, his compassion and his kindness, Adela had an operation to repair her broken leg and many stitches to her wounds.
Adela started her recovery process which included antibiotics, pain killers, wound cleaning, nutritious food and lots of love. Slowly but firmly, she got better and better, to a point in which she could be moved from the nursery to the outside aviary.
By this time, Esperanza was almost a teenager and so was my little Honey, who was still on her own.
They were placed in a divided aviary, where Adela and Esperanza occupied one half and Honey the other one. They were separated, but they could talk through the mesh and soon enough they became friends.
One evening I nervously opened the door that divides the aviary to see if an adoption could be possible. I could not believe my eyes when Adela came and licked Honey as if she was her daughter as well!!! In no time Esperanza and Honey were playing like real sisters and a new family was formed.
A month later when Esperanza was fully recovered, mother and daughters were released back into the wild where they belong. Further reports on their follow up, announced a rapid adaptation to their newly find freedom.
It was a successful story of rehabilitaton and release, but most importantly, a true example of resiliance, maternal instinct, acceptance, generosity and hope.
The night they arrived to the shelter after the accident
Adela and Esperanza during their rehabilitation
Adela, Esperanza and Honey in their nesting box just before release
Basket and her baby Pear were grey ringtail possums, and Apple was very red, you culd see clearly who was the addopted baby when they were in mum's back, but fortunatelly, none of them cared about the difference! We have so much to learn from animals!
Apple, Pear and Basket:
One afternoon in spring I received a ringtail possum mother called Basket, with very little triplets in her pouch. The tree she was living in, had been cut down and now she was a single mum, homeless, a bit bruised and very distressed.
She was recovering and looking after her babies, but one morning when I came to clean her cage, she was looking a bit odd. Her behaviour was not normal and then I found 2 of her babies dead in the nest. It was very sad to see her eyes following me when I took them away.
I felt very sorry for her, she was a good mother. Maybe they sustained internal injuries during the fall from the tree... who knows... Well, at least she still had one baby left, and that comforted both of us, I think.
That afternoon, I received another baby ringthail the same size of Basket's baby, it was a healthy red baby boy called Apple. I decided to show him to Basket and see what happened, I had never done this before.
I could not believe what I saw, Basket smelled Apple and lined back in the nest, exposing her pouch with her baby Pear inside it. I placed Apple on top and after a couple of licks, from his new mum, he disappeared inside her pouch.
With time the babies grow a little bit more and soon enough Basket was fully recovered. They were all released together.
During a Christmas holyday, many years ago, I got a couple of twin baby Lesser Long-eared bats. A boy and a girl. They were so tiny, that my scale would not even register their weight. They were about 1.8 gr!!
They were so immature and cold, that their chance of survival was very low. They had no fur at all, their eyes were closed and feeding them was a big challenge, since a drop of formula was much bigger than their own face.
Despite all efforts, the little baby boy died after a couple of hours, but the little girl, Morticia, was a fighter!
She was feed upside down every 3 hours, day and night, with a one hair brush. Her skin was so transparent, that a growing white spot in her abdomen could be seen during her feeding. It was the formula filling her stomach.
Morticia was a very spoiled, loved and beautiful girl, who grew strong and active in no time, however, she was not interested in flying.
Bats need to learn to fly at the right time, so Morticia started her classes but she was not amused at all. Each evening I would gently through her in the air, while my patient husband would hold a pillow underneath to catch her. She would drop as a stone!
I think she was a bit confused, kind of wandering why her mum went crazy throwing her into the air. After many attempts, one day Morticia opened her wings and things were very different. She was a bit clumsy at the beginning, but soon enough, she was a master of the sky... in our living room!!
Every evening our family would gather to see Morticia fly in our living room, recording the time she was in flight and checking where she landed. Bats can disappear in one second and it can take hours to find them hiding in any corner.
After a week or so, she was flying continuously for long periods of time, so we knew, it was time to let her go.
We released her in our garden and she was around for a little while, so we think. But till today, every bat that flies over our house, is Morticia to us, coming to say hello.
Morticia from baby to adult
Peggy was my very first wombat, and as rehabilitator, I made all possible mistakes with her; not about her caring, but about preparing her to be wombat, a wild wombat...
Peggy came from a very dear former carer in the country side, who gave her to me with the promise of returning her back when she was ready for release.
She was a "pinkie", that means no fur, eyes closed and ears pinned down, but she was a character from be very beginning. We all in my family fell in love with her immediately and she was spoiled and pampered.
She developed by the book, growing healthy, active, intelligent and like all wombats, very stubborn. However, I she was not a very outdoor kind of girl.
She didn't enjoy walking on grass at all, she preferred my carpet instead, and dirt? Ohh no!! she didn't want to spoil her "nails".
Lack of exposure to nature was not my only mistake, having her as an only child and not being able to group her with other wombats, was another one. Her best friend was a tiger soft toy... She thought she was a human!
Anyway, my little princess grew up and it was time to take her back to her next mum, where she was going to be kept a little longer and then soft released.
When we got there, my friend was delighted to see Peggy so big and beautiful, but that happiness was short lived. The first noticeable thing was her smell. She didn't smell like a wombat!! "This is a Chanel wombat!" said my friend.
When we took her to the pen where other young wombat was kept, she had no idea who that funny looking creature wanting to say hello was.
Fortunately, my friend was very experienced and she did a fantastic job teaching Peggy the wombats' ways of living.
With patience and dedication, she was successfully rehabilitated and released.
Peggy was a great teacher to me, I learnt the real purpose of my job as a carer and I understood that those cute babies I am lucky enough to care for, need to be fully wild, dehumanised and independent if they are to survive when they go back into the wild.
Thanks to Peggy, I implemented new protocols to give all the animals in the shelter, the best rehabilitation I possibly can, so they have a second chance in life.
Peggy's photo album, from pinkie to release
After all our difficulties and stories of survival, this is our final destination, our true home, where we want to live a long, happy, safe and wild life!.