"With the disastrous year that our wildlife has endured due to extreme weather and the worst bushfires in Victoria’s history, this story is even more special as so many of our animals have suffered and perished."
A gold prospector in Australia had a miracle find after he heard a distressed noise from a kangaroo emanating from deep inside an 11-metre deep old mineshaft.
Peering down the 11-metre long hole, the gold prospector was able to see a kangaroo at the bottom. The gold prospector contacted Wildlife Victoria and supplied an accurate location.
Five Freedoms Animal Rescue’s Manfred Zabinskas was sent to investigate in an area once known as the Mount Alexander goldfield.
“With the aid of bright torches, we could see the kangaroo laying down in a cramped position with little room to move. It was a sheer drop of eleven metres (36 feet) with smooth sides. There was nothing to break the fall, and the kangaroo would almost certainly have suffered serious injury such as spinal damage, a fractured pelvis or broken legs. The kangaroo was alive and had its head up, but there was no way of telling for sure how injured it was and I needed to go down to retrieve the animal to allow a proper assessment. But this wasn’t going to be an easy rescue as the shaft was very narrow, and I wasn’t,” Zabinskas wrote on Five Freedoms Animal Rescue Facebook page.
“The first step, as always, is to sedate the animal so that it was safe to approach and to minimise further stress and injury. It is difficult to dart vertically down as the tranquilliser gun is set to allow for a pronounced dart trajectory, which doesn’t happen on this type of shot. The first dart missed and I had to allow a large compensation to deliver a good hit with the next dart. The kangaroo didn’t react, which was a bad sign.
“I abseiled to the bottom of the mineshaft and barely had room to place my feet in the confined space that was taken up by the kangaroo. There was a hollow sound from under my feet and I realised that the floor of the shaft wasn’t solid. Several sticks had wedged across the shaft which were covered in dirt and debris, but it was hollow underneath. I had to be extra careful as a collapse of the floor would spell death for the kangaroo. At least I was safely suspended on my rope. There wasn’t enough room to bend over to place the kangaroo into my bag. I had to lift the kangaroo up by its arms and slide it down the front of my body, into the bag at my feet. It was lucky that the kangaroo was small as it would have been almost impossible to bag a large male in this situation.
“I was again reminded of my age and lack of fitness as I hauled myself up and out of the mine. But I made it up. That was the 2nd miracle. With a rope tied to the bag containing the kangaroo, we extracted the poor thing from the mine. It was a female and, in fact, it was a mum. She had a tiny pinkie joey in her pouch that was still attached to her teat and alive. I performed a quick examination for injuries but couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. But there may have been spinal damage or fractures which are difficult to detect. With my fingers crossed, I took her home.
“Mum recovered from the tranquilliser, had a small drink and sampled some fresh green grass. Not long after that, she was bounding around our loungeroom and was eyeing off the windows. Our questions regarding potential injuries were answered. We quickly carried her down to our kangaroo enclosure where she would have more space to hop and less chance to destroy our furnishings. In the enclosure, she hopped lap after lap, and it was obvious that she was in excellent condition. That was the real miracle.”
Zabinskas then took the kangaroo back to its natural habitat and left it happily grazing.
“I have written about many wildlife rescues from mineshafts over the years, but this one was special. With the disastrous year that our wildlife has endured due to extreme weather and the worst bushfires in Victoria’s history, this story is even more special as so many of our animals have suffered and perished,” he said.