Orphaned wombat Lucky thriving in foster care with buddy named Strike

Instagram sensation Lucky, left orphaned when his marsupial mother was run over in September, is learning how to be a wombat thanks to a carer and a fellow orphaned joey.

Lucky's mother was among a group of 11 wombats, including four feeding mothers, deliberately run down by a car in an act that shocked the nation.

NSW Police were called to the Bendeela camping ground, near the Kangaroo Valley, in September, where they found the animals.

After checking the wombats' pouches, only one joey was found — Lucky, aged about five months at the time.

A photo of the tiny, hairless joey was posted on ABC News Instagram and received more than 1,500 likes and 110 comments.
'Lucky Strike' as wombat orphans buddy up

Wildlife Rescue South Coast volunteer carer Kerstin Schweth has been responsible for Lucky's continuing care and rehabilitation.

"Thank goodness she had no damage from the incident," Ms Schweth said.

"We have buddied her up with a little fellow named Strike and they snuggle up and sleep with each other."

Lucky and Strike, whose mother was found dead in a separate incident, are of similar age and are sharing an outdoor enclosure after being kept indoors for a period of time.

"We normally buddy up the orphaned animals so there is less imprint from humans," Ms Schweth said.

"Lucky is a bit bigger than her buddy, she is really solid, and light-coloured and very easy now to feed.

"She lies in my arms and just suckles from the bottle and looks a bit like Buddha — round and muscly.

"They have their funny minutes when they're playing. I take them for walks and then they run around mad, backwards and forwards, bumping into each other and nibbling a little bit here and there.

"They are like children let out in the playground. They need to have the stimulation."

As yet, no-one has been charged with the wildlife deaths and NSW Police said the matter had been handed over to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

"The incident is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage," a spokesman for the office said.

For Lucky's carer, it is a matter of raising awareness of wildlife and encouraging people to "rattle the cage" to get answers.

"We cannot go around hurting animals because, where does it stop?" Ms Schweth said.

"We find so much roadkill anyway and someone doing it purposely, well, we have to watch out we don't turn out like my home country [Germany] where we don't have any wildlife left at all.

"Australia has such a rich variety and we should be happy about that."
Future bright for Lucky

Ms Schweth said that in the same month she got Lucky, 29 other animal rescues took place in her region alone.

She has been a wildlife carer in the Southern Highlands for 12 years and when she started, was "up to my armpits with possums."

She now regularly cares for about 18 kangaroos and six or seven wombats at one time.

Her reward is seeing the animals thrive as they rehabilitate before ultimately being released.

"How can you say no to an animal coming in at night time if people bring them to us and say 'can you look after it'?" she said.

"Letting them go is so beautiful; they deserve to be free and we like to let them go."

She said Lucky would stay in her care until she was about 18 months old when she would be released on a friend's 1,200-acre property nearby.

Currently, she weighs six kilograms but by the time she is released, she will be about 22 kilograms, a good size to defend herself against natural predators.

"The mother kicks them out at 18 months but they are street-wise," Ms Schweth said.

"They're trained by their real mother, whereas we keep them a bit longer to make up for the loss of that.

"Quite often, the animal tells you when they are ready to go. They have habits, like teenagers — they want to get out."

Unfortunately, the organisation does not currently have the facilities or funding to monitor the animals they release.


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WildLife Rules!: Orphaned wombat Lucky thriving in foster care with buddy named Strike
Orphaned wombat Lucky thriving in foster care with buddy named Strike
WildLife Rules!
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