cute animal overload – tasmanian style

i’ve been meaning to post these for a while and finally finally i am.

back when we were in tasmania, we got a fantastic offer to get a tour of the bonorong wildlife sanctuary.
neil had been made a Patron of the BookEnd Trust in Tasmania (his blog about – with a cute video – is here). they’re a group that strives to get kids interested in going into careers involving the environment…and they do it in all different ways. more at: bookendtrust.com.

they figured it would be great to introduce us, up close and personal, to the animals of tasmania, so they called the bonorong folks, who were really nice, brought a case of beer, and showed us around their joint after they’d closed it to the public.

they’re not a huge operation….they’re a teeny little building with a chunk of land and a handful of people who are so devoted to caring for the general wildlife of tasamania, and saving the lives of these animals, that they’ll take phone calls at 3 am from people who have hit something in the road, pull themselves out of bed, drive a few hours and investigate. t
hey’re heroes.

we got a full tour of all sorts of animals, too many to picture here, and my friend ron nordin, who’s a great photographer, took all these incredible shots.
i encourage you to check the place out if you live in or go to tasmania, it’s a fantastic operation, and they work on donation only.

these are the echidnas. they were referred to as the cohabitating gay echidnas, because they’re both boys.
and both named eric.
their tongues were like 15-centimeter little worms that shot out of their mouths and lapped up food at lightening speed.
by far the strangest animal i have ever fed:

and soft to pet! like a sloth! i once got to pet a sloth in brazil. it was soft.

bonorong is NOT a zoo – it’s almost the opposite.

animals are brought here for lots of reasons; because they’re orphaned (often because humans have inadvertently killed their folks, with cars), wounded, or otherwise unable to survive in the wild.
the sanctuary tries to release as many animals as they can BACK into the wild, if it’s possible. sometimes it’s not. sometimes people will see an echidna curl up into a ball, assume it’s sick, and rush it to the sanctuary. the sanctuary people then slap their foreheads, since this is what echidnas DO (they’re born ball-curlers, it’s their defense mechanism) and once you’ve picked them up on the side of the road, you can’t bring them back unless you take them to the EXACT spot you picked them up, since they need to return to their burrow, and most people haven’t thought to mark the spot. so the echinda winds up homeless and helpless, and the bonorong folk become their foster folks.

there was a FIELD of wayward kangaroos:

this one and me, we were having a very deep talk about his traumatized childhood:

i assured him things would be fine.
he was like
“easy for you to say,
they give you beer.”
i was like

“sorry…

shhhh…

i’ll give you beer later maybe.”

these are the tawny frogmouths.
they each had one blind eye, and appeared to be emotionally stuck together like conjoined twins – and in fact each one had the eye that the the other didn’t have.
they were beautiful and sad:

and hungry:

this was a kangaroo with a joey in tow.

lady kangaroos have two sets of milk-producing mammary glands due to the extreme australian drought: they can actually stop a fetus in production and hold off til it seems like there’s going to be rain (and therefore food). since she’s got two joeys at differing ages both needing to breastfeed different milks, her body makes both. the world is amazing.

love is also nice.

this kangaroo just wants the beer in neil’s pocket:

this is the beautiful dianna graf, our hostess, and the reason i first came to tasmania:

AND she’s the source of the infamous “map of tasmania” comment that fateful day i wrote it.

the amazing thing is that she ACTUALLY is like snow white in real life.

for real.

i keep running into people in australia who have been housed by her and her man, mark.
everyone in the world apparently stays with dianna and mark in tasmania.
and she feeds you milk and honey and seeds and flowers, and beer, while singing beautiful songs accompanied by an invisible flautist & string section.

the wallaby and her joey:

“i can haz beer?”

we weren’t supposed to talk to her much because she was “getting too attached to people.”

and this is a tasmanian devil:

they are bizarre little creatures, and actually much friendlier than you’d expect.

except when they eat and turn into blood-curdling savages:

here’s neil, feeding two of the devils a piece of wallaby roadkill:

(i took this one)

they’re becoming endangered nowadays…
due to many reasons, but according to our friends at bonorong, not just due to the well-publicized (around here, anyway) facial-tumor disease that’s been plaguing them.
human beings careening into them with cars has also had a nasty, nasty impact, no pun intended.

they’re scavengers and eat roadkill and are therefore OFTEN in the road, making them vulnerable to traffic.
the sanctuary urges people in tasmania to use your car horn, LOUDLY, when approaching dark turns on country roads, and having the smarts and heart to get out of your car and actually remove roadkill off to the side of the road when you see it. they can then eat in peace, without the oncoming traffic likely to squash them.

they also eat pants:

PANTS!

sleeping koala:

they sleep something like 20 hours a day.
the rest of the time, they’re high on eucalyptus leaves.

ron – the photographer of all these stunning shots) – with a long lost possum cousin of his.

(i took this one)….

FIGHT.

FIGHT!!!!!

wait.

no.

don’t fight.

love.

AFP

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