Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome Wombat Bonney

This morning Bonney arrived for her stay in the Wombat Hilton. She is the thirteenth wombat and ninth female to stay in our pen while being prepared for release on our land.

Arrival of a new wombat is always a poignant moment. It's hard for the carers to farewell an animal they have lovingly reared from infancy and whom they have come to know well. When they go home they will be surrounded by reminders of the animal who has shared their home, and whom they will never see again.

Like all the wombats that are brought to Onemilebridge for release, Bonney was rescued after the death of her mother and raised by human carers who bottle fed, bathed and nurtured her.

These carers were available day and night to ensure her survival, and the bond between wombat and foster parent is very strong. Bonney has clearly been well loved and cared for. Wombats raised with kindness by humans repay the affection.

When we put Bonney into the pen that will be her temporary home (otherwise known as the Wombat Hilton) she immediately set off to explore. She ran down the two burrows that her predecessors have dug, she jogged in and out of the various shelters, and she sniffed at the pyjamas that accompanied her and that are now in the kennel in the pen to provide a familiar scent and reminder of home. She stopped briefly at the bowl of oats we put out for her but she was too excited to eat any.

We as releasers have a specific task. We have to undo some of the human-dependent habits the wombats have developed and prepare them for life in the wild.

As long as Bonney remains in the pen we won't interact directly with her at all, though we will observe her closely, feed and water her daily, and collect her droppings. In the beginning we expect her droppings to be loose because she will be stressed by this separation from what she regards as her home, but after a few days they should begin to be solid again.

When Bonney approaches for a cuddle we will ignore her. She will learn not to expect companionship from humans. We will resist the temptation to enjoy her company ourselves.

It seems apparent that Bonney is a naturally curious and resilient animal. She has already begun to dig and explore. We hope that in a few weeks we will unlatch the hatch in the pen's door and that then Bonney will take her place amongst the wild wombats, hopefully mating and raising a new generation of wombats in this area.

There is already another female wombat on the waiting list for the Wombat Hilton.


  1. I am crying after reading your wonderful post. I am crying for the mother who was killed leaving an orphan behind, for the wonderful relationship between the foster parents and that wombat, for the huge smile on her face in that second photo, because she doesn't know that she's about to be abandoned again and for her great big optimistic future. Thanks for that wonderful post. X

  2. I too am utterly moved by this post, the story of Bonney the death of her mother, the amazing strength of both her and the carers to love and care for something knowing she will not be with them forever. And also it is amazing and wonderful that you facilitate your part in her becoming wild. thank youx