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December 12, 2010

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Wildlife orphans keep volunteers on the hop

RAISING a baby is hard work, as any new parent will tell you, but when the baby in question is an orphaned kangaroo, that 2am bottle feeding can get a bit tricky. Huang Zhao, a student from Guangdong Province who is studying at the University of Tasmania in Australia, went out to talk to some of the people fighting to save some of the most unusual animals in the world.

When Stephanie Clark or her partner Wayne White pushes a baby stroller down the streets of Hobart, the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania, they might be mistaken for just another older couple taking a grandchild along on an errand. But in their case, looks are deceiving.

Inside the stroller in a faux-fur satchel is a five-month-old baby wallaby named George. A small kangaroo-like animal, George is an orphan. His mother was killed in a car accident. George was pulled alive from his dead mother's pouch by an alert passing motorist. He was then handed over to Clark and White, who have been surrogate parents to orphaned and injured Tasmanian wildlife for more than 20 years.

Tasmania has a statewide program of volunteers who take on the difficult task of raising baby kangaroos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils, wombats, poteroos, pademelons, quolls, kookaburras and other native animals and birds unique to Australia.

For months, the carers bottle feed the young and keep them warm in electric blankets or carrier bags to replicate the temperature and security of a mother's pouch. The surrogate parents have to check for diseases and pay heed to proper hygiene. When the little animals are fully grown, they are released back into the wild.

Marsupials are mammals that give birth to hairless, fetus-like babies called "joeys." The young are raised in pouches, where they suckle on mother's milk and complete their development.

Marsupials, who largely come out at night, abound in Tasmania, an island at the southernmost point of Australia where the pressures of population growth haven't yet crowded out natural wildlife.

Tasmania is 10 times larger than the municipality of Shanghai in area but 40 times smaller in population. It has the dubious title as the road-kill capital of Australia. Every year an estimated 300,000 native wild animals are killed on the state's roads.

Many alert people in the state know to stop cars when they see a dead animal on the road and check inside the pouch if it's a female. Babies, like George, often survive.

"I'm his mom now," Clark said as George poked his head out of the satchel and did a wobbly climb into her arms. "Why do we do it?" she said. "Why not? These animals need all the help they can get. It's not their fault that something happened to their mothers. Someone has to take responsibility."

The Wildlife Management Branch of the Department of Primary Industries and Water in Hobart and the privately owned Bonorong Wildlife Park about 30 kilometers north of the capital city have active programs to sign up and train volunteer carers.

Still, there are never enough volunteers to handle the number of animals needing help, said Bonorong manager Greg Irons. Injured or orphaned animals who don't get carers often have to be put to sleep by veterinarians because they can't survive on their own.

Cute they may be, but the joeys are no joys of life to care for.

"It's a big commitment," said Irons. "You have to buy special milk formula and vitamins. Native wildlife can't be fed regular cow's milk. It will hurt them. You have to organize a warm place for the animal to live. Their mother's pouches are 32 degrees Celsius. You have to learn to look at their eyes, their poo, their fur to see if the animal is healthy. You have to get up during the night because they need bottle feeding every few four or five hours. Carers need lots of free time and a passion for animals."

They also need the financial wherewithal. Carers pay for the costs of raising these animals. There is no government money available.

George will stay with his surrogate parents for 14 months. It's hard to have to release an animal back to its natural habitat after raising him for such a long time, Clark admitted. "But wild animals are not supposed to become the pets," she said. "We need to keep wildlife wild."

Some wild animals can never be released back to the wild because their injuries are so serious that they can't survive on their own. Bonorong Park permanently boards many of these disabled animals, including a pair of tawny frogmouth birds blind each in one eye, a Tasmanian devil who lost a leg, a kookaburra that was mauled by a dog. Visitors can come and observe these and other native animals in a natural surrounding of eucalyptus trees. The entry fees go toward supporting wildlife programs.

"We are trying to get as many animals as we can back into the forests," Irons said.


Under the supervision of Shanghai Association of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine (CAAV), Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association (SSAPA), is the only legal and non-profit pet organization in Shanghai, authorized by Shanghai Bureau of Civil Affairs and Shanghai Association for Science and Technology, and has placed more than 600 dogs with adoptees.

Age: six months

Breed: Chinese Rural Dog

Gender: male

Color: black and browm

Health: good

Bo Bo, a gentle and lovely dog, was found by warm-hearted volunteers at the Expo site in April. He is a medium-sized Chinese rural dog although he looks like a German shepherd at first sight. He often smiles fatuously and is a docile creature so you don't have to worry about cleaning up any messes behind him. This smart boy is waiting for a nice family who will play with him and shower him with love.

If you want to adopt an animal, you must be aware of the responsibilities.

Keeping pets is a commitment requiring constant attention and care. In return for their devotion, owners are ensured periods of happiness with pets. But if you're not ready for the commitment, don't get involved.

Animals need regular, healthy feeding; licensing and periodic visits to the vet.

If you like Bo Bo, contact us via or call Jane at 1362-1746-899.

Age: one year

Breed: Stem class string

Gender: female

Color: white

Health: good

Le Le is a lovely puppy with a mild temperament. She acts shy around people because she was once beaten by some people. Fortunately she was saved by pet lovers. If you like her, please contact the address listed to the left.


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