Found an orphaned animal? What to do next, according to expert naturalists

Buddy the baby pademelon was emaciated, starving, and his organs were shutting down when conservationist Jill* was asked for help.

But instead of turning the joey over to proper care that night, the person who found it in his mother’s pouch on a Tasmanian road and took it home for a week, because the children refused to give the joey another wanted to keep the night.

When the caretaker called the next morning, it was too late.

Trish Bone leans against a fence.
Trish Bone, coordinator of Tasmania’s Animal Rescue Cooperative.ABC News: Luke Bowden

By the time the family decided to hand him over, he was beyond saving, she said.

A baby pademelon.
One expert says that a trained caregiver is “the difference between life and death, between suffering and not suffering”.Supplied: L Bonnet

“It’s incredibly selfish behavior on the part of people to keep a joey, an animal in the wild that needs specialist nutrition and specialist care, and for someone to keep it, the wildlife always pays the price.

The Animal Rescue Cooperative said Buddy’s story wasn’t uncommon, unfortunately.

The organization has used social media to share the stories about wildlife “misleading members of the public selfishly choose to keep as pets, which always causes suffering and usually a tragic outcome for those animals”.

George de pademelon with soda can for size reference.
George’s growth was severely stunted after he starved to death while in the care of an untrained member of the public.Supplied: Sloth Hill Animal Sanctuary

At the age of six months, George weighed less than a can of Coke when he was seized by a member of the public.

After three months of care, it has almost doubled in weight, but it will never live in the wild again.

“He is less than a quarter of the size he should be, so if he is released now it would end up being the death penalty,” said his caretaker Michelle.

Tessa the pademelon wrapped in a blanket.
Tessa hasn’t seen the outside world for at least six months.Supplied: Sloth Hill Animal Sanctuary

Pademelon Tessa had never been outside until she was handed over to Michelle.

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