Rupert, when he first came into care.
Note his baggy skin, this is
from using the old method of flushing a joeys system by giving an electrolyte
solution only (and no milk) for 24 hours when first coming into care, or when
a joey is experiencing diarrhoea.
This is something I wouldn't recommend
at all any more. These little babies need the nutrient from their milk, and by
not providing it their muscle quickly waste away as you see here in Rupert.
beautiful boy Rupert became
Garry, my husband, arrived home from work one cold April morning about 20 years
ago announcing he had a present for me. What could it be I thought. Flowers or
chocolates and why hasn't he brought them in himself? Why do I have to go to the
van and get them? Reaching onto the floor of the van and picking up a rather greasy
piece of rag Garry presented me with my 'present' which turned out to be a naked,
pathetically small and icy cold black wallaby. Within minutes this 300gm cold,
pink baby had taken over ownership of Garry's one and only very thick, very expensive,
pure wool jumper as well as his place in our bed.
From the moment Rupert, as I named him, arrived he took control of my life. Incredibly
hard for me to keep warm Garry spent three weeks in the spare bed whilst every
night I cuddled Rupert and sweated with the electric blanket turned to high. Feeding
every 4 hours day and night with monotonous regularity pushed all other chores
well into the background. Rupert was my only concern. He grew slowly from a totally
helpless smooth skinned 'pinkie' to a beautiful soft grey furred wallaby that
followed me ceaselessly around the house and more than once nearly came to grief
as he was kicked or stepped on.
On his journey to the beautiful furred animal he became Rupert mounted and overcame
a number of obstacles - falling more than 2 feet from his pouch near the fire
during an icy, frosty night and managing on his very long and still unsteady legs
to find the coldest place in the house to hide until I got up to give him his
2am feed and heard his tiny cries for help. That night it took 3 hours to get
warmth back into his naked body even with the electric blanket on high and him
cuddled tightly into my body.
The night he took a dive into a bucket of cold mild, how he was able to get out
of that I'll never know but there I was at 2am giving him a warm soapy bath while
Garry mopped up his milky footprints.
A hunger strike for 3 days had me in a whirl, all other activities ceased as I
slowly and gently dripped formula into his mouth hour after hour and relentlessly
plagued the wonderful vet team for answers as to why. They must have spent almost
as much time as me worrying. Again he survived.
I had applied for and been granted a temporary permit to raise Rupert and release
him from our property. After only a few weeks, our local fisheries and wildlife
officer asked if Garry and I would open a wildlife shelter as there was nowhere
in our local area where wildlife needing care could be helped. After some thought
we agreed. Within days we also had in residence 2 tawny frogmouths, another wallaby
and an eastern grey kangaroo.
On the day Rupert arrived Garry told how he had seen the body of the mother in
the middle of the road and stopped to move it, as he did he saw a tiny movement
and checked the pouch, gently removing the cold baby. He said he was about to
put it down when it opened its eyes and looked straight at him, this was the only
time his eyes opened for several days after arrival.
the years passed and more and more wildlife arrived I began to believe that Rupert
had been specially sent to me. I believe that I was chosen to follow the path
Rupert led me down. He and the many other wallabies, kangaroos, possums, etc that
have found their way to our home have taught me many things, among them patience
and tolerance and a passionate love for our precious and unique wildlife that
I cannot put into words. I have found peace, happiness and contentment and a bounty
of friends I would never have known had Rupert not arrived. All these things and
more I owe to that icy cold 300gm pink wallaby that arrived home as a 'present'.
A world of chocolates and flowers could never give what Rupert and the others