Sadly little Gnasher had to be put to sleep by our vet in the early hours of Sunday, 13th April 2003.
He became ill, suddenly, only 13 hours before and despite undergoing two surgical procedures
and receiving the very best veterinary care and medication, there was nothing we could do to save his life.
He was facing a long, lingering death, so the final decision was made, and he died peacefully,
surrounded by people who loved him dearly.


Gnasher arrived at Roo Gully on Saturday, 25th January 2003
Gnasher was an older joey when his mother was killed in a road accident.
He was nearing the end of his pouch life, but was still allowed inside
by his mother. This meant he was being taught how to survive in the bush, and who was his enemy. He definitely regarded humans as the enemy because when his rescuer went to pull him out of his dead mother's pouch he bit him through the hand, twice!
And that is why we named him Gnasher.

We only had to see the look on Gnasher's face, and the glint in his eyes, to know he would bite us too,
given half the chance, and we quickly realised he was going to be a challenging young joey.

Beth and Gnasher
Fortunately the older joeys were still sleeping inside their pouches
and spent their evenings watching TV with us, so Gnasher
was able to see that he was not the only young kangaroo
living this strange life with humans.
And by this time Beth was quite used to sharing her couch
with yet another newcomer.
Gnasher was very slow to trust us, and even though we took him outside
to meet the older kangaroos we dare not put him on the ground.
Carol holds Gnasher
Gnasher looks
Again we only had to look at his face to know
that if we did he would be gone in a flash!
So even though he was not that much younger than Libby or Beth we had to start at the very beginning
and treat Gnasher as if he was a much younger joey.
He had to have his confidence built slowly.

Before we could even think of allowing him to run with the other joeys
we had to get him to trust us much more than he did,
and better still actually like us a little.

He felt more secure in his pouch, so we made sure whatever we were doing Gnasher's pouch was hung on a door knob close by
so he could get used to seeing us go about our daily business.

Gnasher in pouch
Jess with joeys
And every evening he had his special cuddles with his new mates Roly, and Jessica, a young volunteer from the UK.

Slowly but surely we were beginning to win the battle, but we had to get over the final hurdle.
We had to teach Gnasher to come back to us, and his cloth pouch, when he was outside,
and not to make a bolt for the creek if he got frightened.

After our feral animal problem we built a special 'joey weaning' compound
around the back of the house, and it was in there that we taught Gnasher to trust us,
spending many hours patiently sitting and coaxing him back to his safe haven, his pouch.

And then Jessica took over, sitting for many more hours,
day after day, while Gnasher grazed and explored his new world.
Jess looks after Gnasher
Gnasher looks
And the lessons began to pay off,
because whenever he felt frightened,
Gnasher looked for Jessica and ran back to her.
Gnasher with Jess

With Jessica's help Gnasher became a very happy young joey.
He settled into life at Roo Gully and learned to trust us all,

but his best mate was always Jessica and he saved his best kisses for her.

Jess carries Gnasher home

We will never know what really happened to Gnasher that Saturday morning. He was not ill in the days leading up to that fateful day. He drank all his bottles normally, played with the other young roos, and slept peacefully in his pouch the night before. Every morning we put Gnasher out with the others while we fed the babies, Tilly and Roly, and it was only when Jessica went out with his breakfast bottle that she discovered he was standing with blood pouring out of him, and with part of his bowel prolapsed. It was a horrendous sight.
Gnasher was rushed to the Collie Veterinary Hospital where our vet, Dr. Jules Vandenbergh, diagnosed trauma, then operated to repair the damage, and while Gnasher recovered from the anaesthetic and received fluids via a drip, I rushed back to Roo Gully to feed little Tilly, who was unfurred and needs regular bottles.

It was the beginning of what became a terrible day. Gnasher returned home, but then had to be rushed back to the veterinary hospital when he began to bleed severely. He had further surgery, and finally returned home, heavily sedated in the evening. At midnight he prolapsed again, and we knew it was the end. We gave him extra sedation for his last journey to the vet hospital where we knew Jules would confirm that nothing more could be done.

Gnasher crossed over Rainbow Bridge at 1.30am.
His passing leaving a huge hole in our hearts and in the heart of a young volunteer,
who had given him so much.

The first joey you ever love forever holds a special place in your heart,
and the little roo she fell in love had died, and she had been here when it happened.
Our first love, Sadie, is thankfully still with us, so Jessica was experiencing something we have yet to do.
Our hearts went out to her, but throughout that weekend,
through all the stress and the final grief, Jessica never faltered.
She threw herself into caring for the other young joeys,
and behaved with a maturity far beyond her years.
Later on Sunday morning she laid Gnasher to rest in our bush cemetery.

Volunteers play a huge role in the success of Roo Gully Wildlife Sanctuary,
and on days such as the 13th April their help and support was invaluable.
Our sincere thanks go to Dr. Jules Vandenbergh, our vet and our dear friend,
who did everything he could for young Gnasher, and who shared our grief at the end.
Thanks also to Laurelie, another dear friend and committee member
of Roo Gully Wildlife Sanctuary Incorporated who drove Gnasher home
and then rushed him back to the vet hospital while I cared for little Tilly,
and who supported everyone throughout, and who also shared our sadness.
We also thank Shane, our long serving and very faithful local volunteer,
who looked after Roo Gully while we were at the vet hospital,
and who left his bed in the early hours of that Sunday morning to drive Gnasher back to the hospital,
and our deepest thanks to Jessica, who spent many hours patiently building Gnasher's confidence
and who gave him so much love.
We share, and understand, her sadness.

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