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Jacqui Walsh (Wildlife Carer)

Regular visitors to this sight are familiar with the outstanding work Jacqui does to care for injured and orphan native animals.  The photos included here are just some of her current animals - others include 4 Joey Kangaroos, a persistent and always hungry baby Magpie and other birds. 

After rearing Bella (story follows) Jacqui is now looking after another road victim but this time both mother and baby have survived.  An observant local saw the Koala hit, watched that it did move off the road by itself but a day later was sitting in the same spot in the tree so Jacqui was called to move it to her shelter where it is currently being observed and should soon be released.

 

What a joy to watch this mother caring for her baby

 

Three young Wombats share an enclosure and are also a delight to watch.

   

 

This Baby Wombat is just so cute and full of life as it runs around chasing Jacqui's daughter.

 

  She loves s scratch!
"Hey Gibson, wait for me - my legs aren't as long as yours"

There is also an albino Koala recovering from injury.  He was enjoying his spot in the tree - I guess he was comfortable!

   

 

The Bella story

Wildlife Carer, Jacqui Walsh, was "Mum" to a young Koala for five months  during which time it grew from 250g to 2kg  Bella's mother was a roadside victim, left to die without the motorist stopping to check her pouch.  Thankfully a local Vet Nurse did stop and mother and baby were taken to the clinic.  The mother did not survive.

   
 650 g - 3 1/2 months  1.8kg - 6 1/2 months

Bella was just two months old when Jacqui took over the care of her and only weighed 250g.  The critical stage for her ultimate survival was from 750g to 1.25kg.

This precious little Koala first lived in a pouch in Jacqui's bedroom, then graduated to a basket and later to the fork of a tree in the family lounge.  At all times she had a teddy for comfort but as she grew the teddys also needed to become bigger.  Teddy was tied to the branch in the lounge.  Bella also found comfort from Mum Jacqui and it was beautiful to see her snuggling up to Jacqui and nosing around her head and to hear them both responding to the sounds they each made.  She also learned her name.  Had Bella still been with her mother at our first visit, she would only just have been starting to explore the outside world. 

Bella has been on a formula but also ate leaves as she grew.

In early November Bella left the Walsh family and joined three other young   koalas at a shelter at Rawson. 

The week prior to this move another 1.3kg Koala came into Jacqui's care.  This little female had a fractured leg and was also an orphan.  As Jacqui was going on a well deserved holiday she also went with Bella to Rawson.

Bella settled into her new surroundings extremely well and the Carer was most impressed with her as she immediately started to eat her leaves and took her bottle willingly.  Teddy was tied to her new branch which she  claimed as hers, and she was friendly with a part albino Koala that Jacqui also cared for some time ago.

After some time and gradually learning to become independent of humans, Bella was released back into the bush with two other Koalas from the shelter and we wish her well.

   
   
 
Bella in her Rawson enclosure.
She is still in need of her bottle but not her Teddy
 

So please - if you see a native animal on the road check to see if it is alive and if it is a female, check to see if there is a baby in its pouch.  In the case of a Kangaroo or Wallaby, the Joey may soon hop off with a limited chance of survival.  You would not be seeing these pictures of Bella had the Vet Nurse not been quickly on the scene.  When Jacqui checked the Wallaby recently killed at Koonwarra, it was quite evident to her there had been a Joey in her pouch.  She searched in the dark for this Joey to no avail.

There is also a way you can help Jacqui with her work.  She is keen to acquire fencing materials, roofing iron, wire mesh, old aviaries and blankets.  Just let us know through the website "Contact Us".

Jacqui has done a superb job caring for Bella and ensuring her survival

 

Jacqui has lived in Koonwarra for 11 years.  She grew up on her parent's hobby farm at Nerrena where she was surrounded by lambs, calves, horses, ducks, chooks, cats and dogs.  A passion for helping animals developed and Jacqui now runs a wildlife shelter which last week was the home of four kangaroos, a koala, a tawny frogmouth, two rainbow lorikeets and an eastern pygmy possum.

Jacqui began by looking after injured animals, picking them up on the roadsides and taking them to other shelters for care.  She decided to become an animal foster carer six years ago and then two years ago became accredited to run a wildlife shelter herself.  She firstly had to work with a shelter at Venus Bay for at least 12 months before running a shelter herself.  She has a Licence through the Department of Environment and is a member of Wildlife Victoria.

The most common reason animals come into the shelter is because of accidents, some of which are caused by dogs and cats.  About 50 per cent that come in are orphans and the other half are injured animals.  Baby animals require feeding every four hours and that includes getting up in the middle of the night at times.  Other jobs at the shelter include ensuring animals have water at all times, collecting leaves for koalas and possums and cleaning out the cages.  

Life can be very busy for this young mother of a two year old daughter, Tayissa, as she also works part time with a local dairy company.  However, Jacqui feels she is helping defenceless animals and giving them a chance at survival.  She receives a big sense of satisfaction when they are returned to the wild.

 

Jacqui and Tayissa share a special moment with Alby  before his successful release  into the wild.

Alby has been under Jacqui's care on two occasions and is one of the most memorable animals she has had at the shelter.  He stayed for 11 months the first time and was the first koala to survive.  He was a beautiful patient and would sit quietly while she changed the bandages on his hurt leg.  

The hardest part for Jacqui is when an animal cannot be saved and requires euthanasia because its injuries mean it will not recover to a level where it can be released.  It can also be traumatic to see an animal with severe injuries on the side of the road after it has been hit by a car.

Release places depend on the species.  Healed possums can be released almost anywhere but others need to be released in an area where they will not be competing for territory with other animals, or near roads.  Birds are sometimes released on another property owned by the Walsh's at Koonwarra where they hope to make a sanctuary for animals.

 

 

What a wonderful life for Tayissa being surrounded by these beautiful animals, learning to be gentle and caring.

 

This is little Mav who with his 3 little friends slept in pouches in the warmth of the family laundry.

These young joeys were released to a secure enclosure with other young kangaroos when they were old enough.

The shelter is busier during the holiday season with more calls from around Inverloch and Venus Bay.  This is probably because there is more traffic on the roads, more people are observant and noticing sick or injured animals and a few more pet attacks occur because holiday-makers bring their pets to the area.

Jacqui receives animals through the Korumburra and Leongatha Veterinary Clincs, through people who are aware of the shelter and following calls to Wildlife Victoria on 13000 94535 when people report injured or orphaned animals.

 

Thank you Jacqui for the love and care you give our precious Australian wildlife, for sharing your knowledge and expertise with all of us and for being a fine example to our community. 

Jacqui - we are proud of you!