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Wilma’s Story

The snow lay lightly on the surrounding hills on a frosty July morning when the call for a wombat rescue came in. The prospects for a successful rescue did not seem good when told by the wildlife rescue line caller that the mother had been killed the night before. With overnight temperatures at minus six, there was little movement in the pouch. One very small pink arm lay dangling motionless outside the pouch in the freezing air.

"The snow lay lightly on the surrounding hills on a frosty July morning when the call for a wombat rescue came in…"

The mother’s pouch had to be cut open and a frozen pink and very precious parcel, which easily fitted into the palm of the hand, was pulled free and put into a warmed bag. There was little movement, so the chances of survival seemed slim. The best place for warmth was closest to the skin so up the shirt the little bundle went. Up the shirt she stayed for the next few weeks.

But mum had done her job just well enough for her joey, and warmth gradually returned to the little girl weighing in at just 300grams. All seemed possible as she took to wombat formula and started to become active. Feeds every four hours, constant temperature checking , moisturizer to prevent dry skin, toileting, and detailed record keeping was the regular regime for the coming weeks.

A sense of accomplishment came with Wilma’s growth, and as the months passed long whiskers and the shadow of fur began to appear. She could walk now, albeit awkwardly. Rubbing noses and nibbling of ears became a ritual, a strong bond between animal and carer was being built. Many happy weeks followed for Wilma as she played with the other infant, but much more irascible wombat, Betty, and with the affable kangaroo Tully. They all became very good friends, climbing, preening each other, chasing, rolling, sleeping in the sun together, sleeping in the same bag. Wilma captured the heart of everyone with whom she came in contact. Unfortunately, it was not to last much longer.

It all happened very quickly. No one could explain the cause of her inability to pass urine.It could be crystals or a kink in the urethra.Imaging,surgery, a catheter, intravenous fluids, a rushed trip to Sydney for a second operation – all by very knowledgable and caring vets – a very different situation now for dear little Wilma. She was fighting for her life but she still had the energy to rub noses and nibble our chin. Native animals are such stoic creatures.

Wilma passed away the next morning. It was all too much for such a small creature. She left a huge hole in the hearts of all those she touched.

There is a small tree which we planted in the yard near Wilma that seems to be doing rather well at the moment. When I glance at the tree I have visions of Wilma.


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