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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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CATHERINE BOWLER
English

Animal Care in a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Voluntary Project in Perth, Australia

         

I first decided to do a volunteer placement because I had been in my office job for a while. I wanted a change and to take a career break for a few months to do something I would really enjoy and that I was passionate about. I have always loved animals, so I did a search on the internet and found the wildlife rehabilitation placement in Australia organised by Travellers.

Having been to Australia before to the East Coast, I had always wanted to return to see Perth so this placement seemed perfect, combining my passion for animals in a location I was keen to explore. Working at the Wildlife Center has been a great experience for me.

A highlight of working at the wildlife rehabilitation center was going to the schools on educational visits. This involved learning about a specific animal thoroughly and then talking to the children about it, showing them the animals and answering their questions. I also found it very rewarding to be able to release an animal because you know that you contributed to rehabilitating it and have seen its condition improve such a lot from when it was brought in.

I feel I gained valuable knowledge about Australian animals, their behaviour, diet, anatomy, handling and treatment of ailments. This is something I am really interested in and would not have been able to experience in such a hands on way without doing this kind of voluntary work.

I worked 4 days a week, and on my days off I used to go for walks along the Swan River taking in the scenery, or go up to King’s Park. I did some sightseeing – the Swan Bell Tower, the art gallery and museum. The town center is great for shopping or grabbing a bite to eat or a drink, or have a wander around Fremantle markets to pick up some souvenirs. Rottnest Island was one of the highlights of my trip. It was great to hire a bike and cycle around the island seeing the wild quokkas.

I would also definitely recommend a tour to explore the West Coast. I did a 10 day tour up the coast to Broome, exploring the coast and taking in the gorgeous scenery.

I thoroughly enjoyed this project. All the other volunteers were very friendly and helpful and I got a lot of hands on experience of working with Australian animals which is what I was looking to achieve from this placement. I got excellent support from Travellers as well

Can you describe a typical day? A typical week varies depending on the type of animals that come in and what treatment they require. General morning duties would be to see to all the educational animals (permanent residents). This involves taking out food bowls, sweeping the areas, giving fresh water and replacing food pellets.

The other main morning duty would be the bilbies. This involves weighing and maintaining how much food has been eaten, replacing pellets, cleaning the boxes and sifting sand. Also removing waste and debris, raking sand and replacing trees. A volunteer would do one or the other of these morning duties, followed by morning tea around 11am for approximately 45mins.

After this I would prepare fruit for the bobtail lizards or clean aviaries/hot boxes. Depending on what needed to be done I would feed birds, help with treatments, do the washing up or clothes washing/drying.

The main afternoon duty would be to prepare fruit and vegetables for the educational animals, then weigh out all the food for the bilbies and western barred bandicoots and prepare food bowls for the other animals. This was quite a long process so took some time. Other than that I would help to tube feed birds or help with treatments. Then I would take the food out to the educational animals and then sign out.

Saturdays are slightly different as the orphaned joeys are brought in and one of the morning tasks is to bottle feed them. This was one of my favourite tasks.

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