It all happened like this. It was Friday the 13th February 2009, It was a cold, wet, windy day and I was going out that night, however my friend wanted me to come to his place instead. I said no at first then changed my mind and headed off. It was raining hard, and as I was driving I saw a dead wallaby on the road. I stopped, as we carers do, to check the pouch for a joey and move the female off the road. When I checked her pouch, she had a tiny pinky joey, eyes shut, and ears pinned down. I thought the joey was dead, she was so cold, then her little body moved. She was so tiny, she just fitted in the palm of my hand. They rarely survive at this age.
I put her down my shirt as I had no heating pads with me. Of course I had no milk or equipment with me, so I had to borrow all the required items from my carer friend Jill. The joey made it through the night, I was amazed! I was feeding every 2 to 3 hours, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She only weighed 90 grams. The first 3 weeks were very hard , not knowing if she would still be alive at each feed time. She also had on her head what is called a death cross, which usually indicates that a joey is not going to survive. She progressed through the developing stages of the eyes opening, ears standing up and the fur starting to come through. She had her ups and downs but I knew she would make it now.
Then, a problem occurred, she broke her tail. The vet said her bones were very weak from lack of sun but I am not sure if that was the case as she did get a small dose of sun each day. She made it through. Then, typical of pretty faces became very cheeky, but still adorable, she was my whole world. By the time she was 5 kg, it was time to send her off to another carer with a soft release site. I took her there, but it was so hard to leave her. I stayed for a couple of days to make sure she settled in okay. It was then time to say goodbye and that last cuddle. I cried. She was so special to me and it was so hard to let her go. It is not every day we have the privilege of raising one so young.
Shae started her new journey but only a few days later I received a phone call from my friend with bad news. Shae was found laying in the paddock with a badly broken leg and she had to be euthanized. That is the hard part of this job when you put so much love and time into raising these beautiful wild animals and something happens and they cant go back where they belong, it makes you feel like giving up but you don’t because then the next one comes in and you start all over again. Shae will always be with me every time I drive past the spot where I found her, I think of that day. I loved her, she had a happy life and she will always be so special.
This story reflect the need for joeys to receive plenty of sunshine during their development, so that they are able to absorb the sun’s Vtamin D, to facilitate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous to growing joeys’ bones
by Judy Thoroughgood