FRECKLE'S TALE

Freckle died on the 6th January 2003, after an accident at Roo Gully.
This Tale is now a tribute to a young roo who should never have been in care,
and who we loved so very dearly.

Freckle

We first met Freckle on June 25th 2002
when we were called out to a property to help with a 'sick roo'.

Freckle's early history was vague, and as time goes on,
we have been told differing versions of how she was orphaned.

That day we were told she was orphaned in a road accident,
and that she had a fairly uneventful joeyhood.
However the family soon discovered that Western Grey kangaroo joeys
do not remain small and cuddly forever.
They grow into beautiful but quite large animals.
Magnificent animals nature blessed with amazing speed and grace.
This means they require space to hop, lots of space,
and so are not suited to living their adult lives in small back yards and gardens.
Poor Freckle's problem began when her family were advised she should go bush.

Not ready for life without her human mother,
and living in a new territory as a lone kangaroo Freckle soon became stressed,
lost an alarming amount of weight, and slowly became very sick.
Female Western Grey kangaroos as old as Freckle should weigh between 12 and 15 kilos;
she weighed less than 7 kilos.
We had never seen such a sick little kangaroo.
Although none of us held out much hope she would survive,
Freckle was brought home to Roo Gully and the fight began to save her.

We had 3 UK volunteers staying with us,
so with everyone working in shifts,
Freckle received 24 hour care,
our sick little roo lying by the lounge fire,
her carer sleeping on a mattress on the floor beside her.
Freckle arrives
Freckle asleep
Suffering from hypothermia, it took over 18 hours
to get her core temperature anywhere near normal,
and all she could drink for the first few days
was 10 mls of warm milk every two hours.
Two vets, Jules and a Scottish locum, Gillian, helped us.
They confirmed Freckle had many problems.
Not only was she seriously underweight,
and suffering from a severe chest infection,
but she also had heart and liver problems.
Freckle and vets
Emma hand feeds Freckle

Every day Freckle survived was a bonus, and we were all determined that she would receive the best care,
Emma spent hours persuading her to eat.

Even though she hardly had the strength to hold her ears up,
within a week she was strong enough to be taken outside
and encouraged to nibble grass, but she was a pitiful sight.
Freckle underweight
Yes, we admit, she was spoiled.
Because it was winter we asked someone to make her a little coat to keep her warm.
Freckle spoiled
And when it rained everyone took extreme measures
to make sure she didn't get wet!
We soon found out that Freckle was a sun worshiper.
Freckle enjoys sun
Freckle laying on Emma
And she didn't mind who she used as a sun bed!
At night Freckle shared a double bed with me.
It is wonderful to hear her snoring, and who cared if she kept us wake?
She was breathing and that noise was so very reassuring,
and it warmed our hearts to know she was,
at long last, relaxed enough to really sleep.
Freckle Carol in bed
Because sleep was part of the healing process,
Freckle seemed to have a bed in most rooms,
and if there was an unoccupied pouch she quickly occupied it!
Freckle in lounge
Freckle in pouch
Day by day she was introduced to the other roos.
At first she didn't really like them, because in her mind she was not a kangaroo.
Little Marty, a young joey being raised at Roo Gully,
bore the brunt of her dislike for her own species and often received a quick biff around the ear.
Randy meets Freckle
But the older roos, especially Randy,
were not intimidated by this sick roo,
and so very gradually Freckle had to get used
to these peculiar long legged, long tailed,
hopping creatures she was now living with.
No one will ever forget the day Freckle hopped down to the creek.
It was a wonderful sight and proved we were winning the battle.
Freckle hops to creek
But this now meant she was having to associate with the mob.
Freckle with roos
Karri curious
The other roos were curious.
And some of the females, especially the dominant females,
like Bracken, were quite aggressive towards Freckle.
Bracken aggressive
Freckle stands in trough
Maybe it was her appalling table manners they didn't like!
Or more likely it was that she had to assume a rank within the mob and they were going to help her find that rank.
Which they wanted to be below them!
Thankfully the boys were friendlier.
Randy reintroduced himself.
Randy sniffs Freckle
Freckle meets Jarrah
And Jarrah was very gentle.
But it was Sonny, the dominant male at the time,
who became her protector within the mob.
Freckle with Sonny
On Thursday, 5th September 2002, we put Freckle in a bag and weighed her.
She tipped the scaled at just a little over 10 kilos.
Freckle weighed
10 kilos
We celebrated this milestone in her recovery
with a get together on the lawn at Roo Gully.
Freckle enjoyed her corn on the cob
surrounded by some of her friends
who had supported and helped her.
Freckle party
In the beginning we tried very hard not to get attached to Freckle,
but as each day went by and the life returned to her eyes and heart we got sucked in good and proper!
Because she had been so nutritionally compromised,
and because she had several ongoing problems needing veterinary monitoring,
Freckle was destined to remain at Roo Gully for life.
Freckle recovering

Freckle was nothing short of a miracle. Sadly that miracle ended.
During the afternoon of the 6th January 2003 something spooked the roos.
The mob panicked and ran. Poor Freckle hit the fence, broke her neck and died instantly.
We were devastated.

That night as we counted the cost of roos injured, some missing,
and others suffering severe stress, our hearts went out to the little roo who had suffered so much during her life,
the young roo who we had worked so hard to save and to give a life too,
a life she never had before coming to live with us, a life she began to enjoy.
A life that was cut so tragically short.
It goes without saying we loved Freckle dearly.
She was one of life's treasures, a roo who gave as much love back as she received,
and we miss her dreadfully.

Freckle

Freckle's Tale spurred Roo Gully to begin researching and studying improved methods of weaning and rehabilitation and to pass on the information to avoid future weaning disasters and suffering.
Sadly for many kangaroos problems begin when the time comes for them to go bush. Weaning takes time and patience, and rehabilitation is not as easy as simply taking one roo, or even a group of roos, and releasing them. Kangaroos are territorial, especially the females, who live in one area all their lives. Daughters remain with mothers, and the female members of many mobs consist of mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, granddaughters, aunts, nieces and cousins, unlike the older male members who are from neighbouring mobs, dispersing when they reach sexual maturity.
But regardless of whether they are male or female, kangaroos are just the same as many other species and they bond closely with their mothers. When kangaroos are raised by humans we are their mothers. They need us, and we must be very careful not to make them go bush before they are ready. It is research we are continuing and in the future we hope we can help prevent other joeys suffering, and for some dying a slow death after early or bad rehabilitation attempts.

Our 'adoption' programme helped Freckle enormously, and to all 'adopters' we have to say you really did help a young roo live long enough to become healthy, and that in the final few months she really did begin to enjoy life to the full. Sadly that life was cut tragically short, and no one will miss her like we will. Freckle will forever hold a special place in our hearts, and in the hearts of the many people, and volunteers, who helped her on the road to recovery.
It is testimony to everyone who worked so hard that Freckle weighed 17 kilos when she died.

Freckle now rests in our bush cemetery.

On behalf of Freckle we thank you for caring, and for loving her too
Freckle's Tale © Roo Gully 2003