Postcard from Tasmania: Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Our travels around Tasmania helped both Thomas and Samuel develop a deep fascination with Tasmanian Devils. I’d always thought of them as vicious, disgusting animals but, the more we learned about them, the more interesting they became. By the time we reached Hobart I was on a mission to find somewhere for us to see the little creatures up close and in person. Thankfully, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary offered exactly the sort of experience we were looking for.

Much like the Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, Bonorong provides a home for animals who might not survive in the wild due to injury or abandonment. They also house Tasmanian Devils in a quarantine-like environment to help with repopulation. Devils have been afflicted by a mysterious facial cancer that has threatened their population and the Sanctuary is on a mission to maintain a disease-free group of animals to ensure the species’ survival.

On the 30 minute drive to the Sanctuary, Samuel gave me instructions to “take way too many photos of Tasmanian Devils” and, while I won’t share them all here, I didn’t disappoint.

We listened to a Ranger talk about the Tasmanian Devils and I can’t help feeling that they’re a little misunderstood. Sure, they’re smelly and sound like angry little monsters, but they act as nature’s cleaners. I assumed they were vicious predators but, in fact, they only feed on animals that are already dead. So I guess they’re doing us all a favor. Unfortunately this does make them extremely vulnerable as a lot of their food can be found on roads and they are often hit by cars.

After the tragedy of losing the Tasmanian Tiger to extinction, I appreciate everything that the Tasmanian Government and places like the Bonorong Sanctuary are doing to help ensure the Tassie Devil survives for generations to come.

But, as “cute” as these little guys were, this fat little guy was more my style.

Wombats are adorable little battering rams. I have memories of coming across them when we used to camp at Wilson’s Promontory. We’d never get too close because we were warned that they’re not a fan of strangers and, while they look harmless, wombats are incredibly strong. After giving us a lesson in all thing’s wombat, the Ranger passed him around so we could knock on his thick rump bone(he couldn’t feel it). Fun fact: wombat pouches face backwards so they don’t fill with dirt when a mother wombat is digging a burrow. This means that a baby in the pouch will look backwards and you may sometimes experience what looks like a two-headed wombat.

We also had the opportunity to pet this guy…

… and catch up with some native birds, like the kookaburra…

…and the Tawny Frogmouth – one of the most interesting creatures I’ve ever seen.

Finally, a trip to a Wildlife Sanctuary is not complete without the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most famous residents. We set out with a supply of kangaroo food and strict instructions to only pet them on the chest to avoid an unwanted encounter with some powerful legs.

As a special treat, we were able to see some joeys still in the pouch. Can you spot this one? I think I’d be telling him he’s big enough to leave home if I was that mama.

The Sanctuary provides a safe area for Kangaroos and Wallabies who have had enough of human interaction and just want a quiet space to hang out.

I took this next photo just to show how big this kangaroo was next to the toddler. In fact he was bigger than Samuel. He was also pretty pushy about getting to the food so we chose to walk away and find some calmer friends to hang out with.

 

I’m so glad we had the opportunity to visit the Bonorong Sanctuary. If you look back through my posts recapping our trips to Australia then you’ll see that I try to ensure at least one interaction with Australian wildlife on every trip. I’m hoping that by feeling close to these animals, it will help my children connect more closely with their Aussie side and understand just how special this place is.

Like no other place on earth.

Visiting Old Friends at the Oregon Zoo

It was a 75 degree Sunday, Kei was playing golf and had to get the kids out of the house. We arrived at 9am when the gates opened and stayed for 4.5 hours, saying hello to every single animal. We’ve had a zoo membership for about 5 years and so now some of the animals are like old friends. It felt good to be back.

Thomas put himself in charge of the map which only resulted in a few arguments.

As we walked around, I posted on Facebook about how grateful I am that our stroller days are behind us. We now have so much more freedom to relax and take our time without having to find ramps or stop for endless potty and feeding breaks (although we had a couple).

I am also grateful that I can stop and take a photograph without the fear that one my kids will run off while my back is turned for 30 seconds

We arrived just as the bears were being served breakfast.

This is the crowd that we had to navigate for a glimpse.

A favorite from the day. Goats are pretty cool – and able to stand still for a long time.

A quick stop to climb some statues.

It amuses me that his fingers are in the Lion’s nostrils. Looks uncomfortable.

Another favorite.

A tip for managers of Zoos around the world – if you want kids to read about animals, put the information on some sort of screen. Printed signs were ignored but if there was a screen around, we stopped Every. Single. Time.

Crickets and Scorpion lollipops. YUM!

This is the first time that we’ve been through the bird walk in a while. Samuel’s verdict? “It smells really bad in there.”

Overall, a wonderful, relaxing, sunny day at the zoo. I’m sure we’ll be back soon.