When things go wrong – wombat runaway!

This is the story of Merlin, a wombat escapee!

Merlin was due for release (weighing around 23 kilos) but instead of waiting for a suitable release site, he burrowed out of his enclosure, out of the garden and escaped around Mt Ainslie, one of the reserves in Canberra. Although technically ‘in the wild’, escaping into the suburbs is not the outcome wildlife carers work so hard to achieve! The suburb and surrounding reserve are busy – populated with dogs, cars and people! Since there are no burrows (or other wombats) he could even be burrowing under someone’s house. So naturally we called in help from the local news team to alert the public.

WIN news,Canberra 22 December 2021.

Filming the story took place at the home of one of our carers. The news crew filmed a wombat currently in care with another carer to show people what a wombat looks like and the approximate size. (Seriously, some Australians have never seen a live wombat!) The behind the scenes photos show how fascinated Merindah the wombat was with all of the attention! Merindah loved the camera! She clearly didn’t understand that this story wasn’t actually about her! What a womdiva (wombat diva)!

So back to Merlin the escapee…. The media assistance was a huge help. Several people called our wildlife hotline to report evidence that ’something’ had attempted to dig under their fence. This evidence provided a search area. Several carers walked the area looking for signs (poo, diggings etc) of Merlin. Then a couple of weeks later a member of the public phoned to report that she had discovered Merlin in her yard, happily munching the grass. Her house was approximately five kilometers from where he’d escaped! Merlin’s carer attended with a crate and called Merlin who recognized her instantly. As I mentioned elsewhere in my blog, carers and wombat joeys form a strong bond. Wombats live inside their mother’s pouch for seven – ten months, then follow their mum everywhere for another ten months! As carers we need to handle our joeys, bottle feed our joeys and encourage play experiences that enable the joeys to learn, so we also form a strong bond! Merlin approached his carer and sat at her feet happily munching the sweet potato that she provided – clearly oblivious to the stress and worry his escape had caused! Merlin’s short experience of ‘life on the run’ had been relatively successful (for him!) he looked fat and content. But he couldn’t remain in the suburbs. Canberra is known as the bush capital – but we don’t have (or need) wombats wondering around the suburbs.

Video – curtesy Elena Bunk -used with thanks.

Merlin was enticed into a create for the trip back home. Merlin remained in care for a two week period to ensure he was healthy.

Video – curtesy Elena Bunk- used with thanks.

After making sure Merlin was healthy with no resulting injuries from his escape, he was successfully released into the wild. A suitable bush site had been found with a beautiful creek and empty burrows – away from homes and cars!

A huge thank you to Merlin’s carer for sharing his story with me! Our carers do an amazing job, dedicated and so generous with their time. In this case, Merlin’s carer experienced a rollercoaster ride of emotions and the grief of saying goodbye twice! But for now the memory of Merlin is etched on her heart (and the heart of many of us) as the wombat who couldn’t wait – the wombat escapee!

Merlin – released. Photo curtesy of Elena Bunk, used with thanks.

Live your best life now Merlin – in the real wild, where you belong! ❤️

Merlin as a baby! Image curtesy Elena Bunk. Used with thanks.

All images are owned and copyrighted by me. Any images used belonging to others are acknowledged, used with permission and remain their property and cannot be shared.

Published by helenjhardy

Wildlife carer, animal rights supporter, teacher, presenter.

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