By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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Videographer / Director: Alana Tompson
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Thom Johnson
When a stranger pulled up at their home with an orphaned kangaroo in 2010, this couple’s lives changed forever and Our Haven Wildlife Shelter was born.
Theresa and Tony Matthews had always loved wildlife but after being told that the healthy orphaned joey would have to be euthanised, they realised that they had to do something for the helpless animal.
Tony told Barcroft TV: “A chap pulled up at the front fence and said, ‘Do you look after wildlife?’ I said, ‘Why?’, and he said, ‘I’ve got a kangaroo in the car.’
“That was our first kangaroo and his name was Bobby. We mainly take on eastern grey kangaroos, they’re the only ones down here and also swamp wallabies.”
With a constant stream of animals coming in, their home is far from ordinary, but it also comes with heartache.
As juveniles, kangaroos are delicate because they get stressed very easily, which can be dangerous for them.
However, Theresa and Tony have had a high success rate and have been able to rehabilitate lots of orphaned wildlife.
Theresa said: “We realised that there was no one here for these joeys and they were being euthanised. Not because there was anything wrong with them, but because there was nowhere to go.
“Because of our love for kangaroos, we just opened up our home to them and this rescuing got bigger and got bigger.”
Eight years later, the couple have only just managed to have their first holiday as they must care for the babies 24 hours a day - they rely on volunteers to help with feeds and maintenance during the day.
Raising roos also comes with some risks - like having your head used as a chair or a toilet.
Theresa said: “I’ve woken up with one on my head. Actually Lucky the swamp wallaby has done that quite a few times, and he’s weed on me - on my head.”
The duo raise the joeys at their suburban home until they are ready for release and then they are transported to be released back into the wild.
Theresa said: “Our goal with the kangaroos is rehabilitation and release. It’s hard to say goodbye and I always cry all the way home but, you know, it’s about them not us.
“We’ve done our job, so we’ve gotta let them go."
Since a work accident in 2000, Tony has been unable to work, so the couple rely on Theresa’s wages and donations to support their kangaroo troupe.
As their shelter has grown, the couple are looking to move to a larger plot of land so that they can house more orphaned wildlife.
Theresa said: “Now the phone rings every day, there’s rescues every day. We do what we can. They’ve become our life now, but they’re worth every minute and penny.
“The love and trust is amazing. It’s hard to explain, they just feel like you’re children. They hug you back and they really love ya.”
To find out more about Our Haven Wildlife Shelter and to donate visit: http://ourhavenwildlifeshelter.org.au/campaigns/help-us-help-wildlife/donate/