my years as a wildlife carer, I think it was Thump, our little Red Kangaroo, who
touched Todd's and my heart the most deeply.
Todd's working companion's, Peter and Kevin, were traveling west of Dubbo when
they came across a female Red Kangaroo in the middle of the road. The driver tried
to stop the car and they both watched as the kangaroo struggled to get off the
road, she looked sick and weak and seemed to have very little energy to quickly
move off the road. Sadly the car couldn't stop in time and the kangaroo didn't
make it off the road and she was killed instantly.
quite heart sick the boys stopped the car to check on the kangaroo and to check
the pouch for a joey. There was one, a little boy - Thump.
Knowing I was a wildlife carer the boys brought Thump to me.
Thump was quite unwell himself. After hearing about mama kangaroo I decided that
she must have had an illness which had passed on to her son. It's very hard to
describe Thump's condition except that his skin and fur was "hard and crystally".
Some areas, including his ankles, arms and hands had lost patches of fur. The
fur above his right eye was rock hard and he had difficulty opening the eye fully.
He also had a severe case of mites, we could see hundreds of the tiny parasites
crawling on his body.
was given Ivomec to kill the parasites and we rubbed olive oil and paw paw ointment
onto the hard patches of skin to soften them up. When the areas softened the fur
started to fall off revealing pink skin underneath that didn't appear infected
or raised. The rim of skin around the fur loss looked slightly raised but receded
after a day or so. After the fur came off around Thump's eye he could open it
we had no idea what we were dealing with Thump was taken on a visit to Benn and
Tim at the Veterinary Quarantine Centre at Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo.
and Tim were as perplexed as I was, having never seen anything like it before.
A host of test were taken including biopsy's of his flesh. Within days the results
were returned I was told that Thump had a severe case of ringworm, a fungal infection
of the skin. Ringworm is a condition that joeys can sometimes get while in care,
however it is rarely seen - especially a case as severe as Thump's - in an animal
received directly from the wild.
prescribed some medications and a regular anti-fungal bath. After Thump's first
shampoo bath lots of fur fell off revealing skin that was red and crusty. The
application of anti-fungal creams reduced the damaged skin within days.
so much fur lost we feared he would get cold, especially at night, so Todd made
him a little jumper made out of a polar fleece jumper sleeve. Not only did it
keep him nice and warm, but he looked awfully cute in it as well!
the weeks Thump's condition improved and he gained weight. He seemed brighter
and his appetite improved. He loved eating dirt and grass roots and nibbled at
all the offerings we gave. His energy also increased and he enjoyed a little hop
around the garden.
were looking good for little Thump.
dad's birthday came up and I headed home to share in the celebrations. Todd stayed
at home to look after Thump and the other critters in care.
evening I had a call from Todd, Thump had dramatically gone down hill. He had
little energy and was listless. He refused to take his bottle and was becoming
had definitely taken a turn for the worst.
quickly came home to find a very ill Thump. I was totally amazed at how fast he
had dropped in condition. He looked so very sad. I immediately gave him subcutaneous
fluids to help rehydrate him.
to my local vet we sped. With gentle hands Kim assessed Thump and told me that
his little body was shutting down. Thump's immune system was very weak and secondary
problems were not a surprise to Kim. With an animal so sick, even though he did
appear to be on the improve, Kim said that it was to be expected that his body
would not have been strong enough to fight. Thump was dying. We were told that
without help it would probably take a few days.
incredibly heavy hearts and weeping a bucket full of tears Todd and I made the
difficult decision to euthanase Thump. Although I desperately wanted to fight
for his little life I realised that saving him would be unlikely, and I my conscious
wouldn't allow to keep him alive and struggling for my own end.
fell asleep while inside his pouch, encircled in my arms while Todd held me. It
was one of the most unbearable moments of my life.
was one of the special ones. We shared his life for a very short six weeks and
feel so incredibly lucky for having done so.