Collinsville couple turn passion for plants into caring for injured kangaroos

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(ABC News: Sophie Meixner) ABC Tropical North


Sophie Meixner


April 13, 2017 08:57:08

Abby the wallaroo pokes her head out of Carol Cosentino’s arms.
What started as a passion for plants 21 years ago has evolved into a North Queensland wildlife rehabilitation centre, which has helped hundreds of animals.Carol and Vince Cosentino run Wurra Yumba kangaroo house, on their double block on a suburban street just outside Collinsville.The rescue centre started as an accident when neighbours, aware of Ms Cosentino’s fondness for nature, started bringing her injured birds.”Originally I was the mad gardener and then people started bringing me [orphaned] baby birds and it grew from there,” she said.”Because I like to be empathetic towards my plants and trees, I just tuned that empathy onto the birds and had a good success rate.”When I saw the need for our local wildlife that were being injured and orphaned by human contact I realised that they needed our help, and they just took over our lives.”

They have cared for hundreds of injured and orphaned animals over 21 years. [The mother] had been decapitated.”She was so appreciative to have a nice warm bag and nice drink of milk when she got here and she’s been very loving and affectionate ever since.”

Carol and Vince Cosentino care for up to 20 kangaroos at a time. (ABC News: Sophie Meixner)
Sharing a property with up to 20 kangaroosFor 21 years the Cosentinos have rescued hundreds of kangaroos, wallabies, and wallaroos that have been injured or orphaned, usually in road accidents.With some of them arriving at the centre still with their eyes closed and weighing as little as 140 grams, the couple nurses the animals back to health.At any point the couple can share their property with up to 20 marsupials, as well as birds, snakes, and other wildlife.Ms Cosentino knows the back story of every furry patient that is admitted to Wurra Yumba.Abby, a wallaroo that has been at the centre for a year, will soon outgrow her temporary home.”She was hiding in her mother’s pouch on the road to Bowen for two days before someone checked the pouch and found her,” Ms Cosentino said.”She wasn’t injured but she was pretty dehydrated and very frightened.”She was very fortunate that the person went to move the dead mother off the road. (ABC News: Sophie Meixner)
Bittersweet to see animals released into the wildThe animals are all eventually released into the wild, initially onto a neighbour’s property far away from the road.Mrs Cosentino said it was bittersweet to see her charges move on.”My yard here, my double block, is not big enough to keep them into maturity, and also too when they get really big, their hormones kick in and they can become quite a handful, so they’re better off with their own kind,” she said.”It’s not fair to put them in such a small area, because the minute you put them out in an open space their strides just lengthen and when you see them going out for a mad gallop in the yard, it’s that joie de vivre, and you feel like you’re not being fair to them.”Plus by releasing them we’re giving our yard a chance to recover for grass and make room for new babies that really need our care.”The kangaroo house has a small cabin where visitors and tourists can stay for free in exchange for their help with the animals.”[The tourists] get a lot of pleasure out of helping, especially with the babies,” Ms Cosentino said.”They get very attached to them, and usually when they leave, they’re crying and sticking joeys down their shirt.”

It is “bittersweet” when a patient is released into the wild. (ABC News: Sophie Meixner)
Always drive with animals in mindMs Cosentino said the reason so many injured animals were admitted to Wurra Yumba was that people did not drive with wildlife in mind.”When you drive … knowing that an animal will hop out, you change the way you drive, your speed and how you observe and also what you do,” she said.”People think they’re such good drivers, that they can can swerve around and miss them, but that’s a fallacy because kangaroos can change direction in mid-air.”The best thing to do if you see a kangaroo up in front is to slow down and sometimes stop.”She said if people saw a dead female kangaroo on the side of the road they should always check her pouch.”It’s amazing how many babies can be rescued that way and then keep them warm and get them to the nearest carer so they can get the specialised care,” she said.
Dusty the kangaroo loves life on the farm