The Story of TJ

The Story of TJ

TJ is a female Eastern Grey Kangaroo who has an interesting story

Tamara and Jason were on their way home to Brisbane after visiting friends in Esk. Before leaving, they had checked their petrol, and had decided that there was only just sufficient in the tank to cover the 108 km (67 mile) journey.

As they were driving along the Brisbane Valley Highway, they passed a large dead kangaroo. This is not an uncommon sight as these animals have very poor road sense and easily fall victims to passing traffic.

“I wonder whether that animal was really dead?” Tamara murmured, remembering what they had heard about these stricken creatures, and at the same time wondering whether, if it were a female, there might be a live joey in her pouch.

“If I stop, we won’t make Brisbane,” Jason grumbled. “That was a dead kangaroo, no doubt about it,” he assured his wife. And he was sure.

“Look, a baby!” Tamara exclaimed.

There, lying beside the road, was a small furry bundle. Had it not raised its head as the car approached, Jason would not have noticed it. As Tamara cried out he was already applying his brakes and drawing into the grass verge. They both alighted and made a very slow approach to what they suspected could be a badly frightened, possibly injured, little animal.

To their surprise, the tiny head turned towards them, but it made no other movement. Thinking now that the animal was injured, when they can be dangerous, they moved slowly forward, but it pulled itself up into a sitting position, then slowly it hopped towards them raising its little front paws as if in surrender.

Tamara dropped to her knees. The little animal did a staggery hop towards her. At once, she noticed the cut and swelling on the back leg. Jason had gone back to the car and now stooped to gather up the little creature in a blanket kept in the car for emergency use. He handed the bundle to Tamara as she took her seat in the car.

“We’ll have to go back and get help,” he said as he started the engine and began an about-turn manoeuvre. “We’ll worry about the petrol situation later.”

Jason and Tamara returned to their friends’ place where they found a copy of a local newspaper which has a column on wildlife watch. They rang Kay and Tony, who write the column, and were given my number.

And so it was that this rescued joey landed up in my experienced hands.

Tamara and Jason followed me into the house. Carefully I drew back the blanket. The head and two bright eyes were revealed.

“Why, it’s a little female Eastern Grey Kangaroo,” I exclaimed as I lifted it tenderly and began a careful examination of its condition whilst Tamara and Jason stood by in silent appreciation of the skill and dedication of a wild animal carer.

I soon had the wounds dressed and the little lady weighed, then placed into a snug bag where it could rest comfortably as if in its own mother’s pouch. The bag joined a line of such bags suspended on a wall, each containing a tiny wild one now in recovery.

I now turned to the rescuers. “You have done a splendid job and a little life has been saved through your kind thoughtfulness,” I smiled. “Thank you both for being so caring. Would you like to have a progress report? And perhaps you would like to give the little lady here a name . . .”

And so it was that T J acquired her name and Tamara and Jason were able to return to Brisbane with a feeling of great contentment. The petrol tank was full, thanks to my local knowledge of country after-hours service, available at a tiny filling station, and Tamara and Jason left with the anticipation of the patient’s progress report which I promised to phone through next day – all part of the busy schedule of a wild life carer.

Tamara had mentioned the dead kangaroo they had passed, when telling me of their first noticing the little joey. She asked whether it could have been the mother, but I thought it unlikely, as the joey would have stayed closer to her mom. However, I promised that I would be able to give a clearer answer when I phoned the following evening.

Tamara and Jason were delighted when, the following morning, I was able to tell them that the news was good. T J’s wounds were already responding to treatment. I explained that from my observation it became obvious that the joey had not come direct from the wild but had been in the hands of someone who was ignorant of the needs of wild creatures. She only weighed 3.8 kg (8.3 lbs), therefore was too young to be released. She was in good condition, but very stressed. She had not been reared in a bag as the substitute for her mother’s pouch, as would be the practice were she in the hands of an experienced carer. This was also borne out by the fact that she badly needed someone or something to bond to.

Jason remembered how the young animal had raised its paws to them as it approached, as though it were appealing for help.

I explained how T J was already attempting to bond with me. I was having to repeatedly remove her from my lap and replace her in her bag where she could feel the security she was seeking. At over 3 kg (6.6 lb), this was a little late to re-establish the habit to seek safety in mom’s pouch. Not an easy lesson for her to learn, as she had obviously been led into unnatural habits which would have to be broken if she were to survive in the wild.

I then provided a possible scenario of events prior to T J’s rescue. Someone inexperienced in the needs of young wild animals had found the joey and kindly picked it up and tried to do their best for it. Maybe they decided that the time had now come for it to be released to fend for itself. There are no houses in the area where it was found, but the person may have decided it was best to return it to the spot where they had picked it up and from there it could, they hoped, find its own way.

An experienced carer would have known that an Eastern Grey is not ready for support release until it weighs at least 10kg (22 lbs).

“Had you both not found T J when you did,” I concluded, “she would have surely died.”

Tamara keeps a regular check on T J as the experience of saving this little life has been very rewarding for both her and Jason.

UPDATE


TJ was released with her friend Beth in June, 2002. They were such good friends and were inseparable.

Sadly, after about a month, Beth come back one afternoon, hunched over and looking very sick. We tried everything to save her. She had injections and medicine every day for a week, but we lost her in the end. We think she had an internal injury.

TJ stayed by her side the whole time, and when Beth died, we had the worry of her fretting.

After about a week or so, she made friends with another female who had been released some months before. She spends all her time with her now, and continues to come back every morning and night for her food. I will be happy to share a photo with you when there is a little face looking out of her pouch.


– Monica Allen

Cedar Grove, Queensland, Australia.

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