http://wombatawareness.com/2015/02/UPDATE 26-02-2015 - The millionaire bequest fell through! Brigitte and the wombats of South Australia are now facing a truly awful situation. She has set up a donation site in absolute desperation, no amount too small: https://www.chuffed.org/project/wombatssoontobehomeless and we hope our readers will spread this news. No-one else is helping the wombats in SA on a large scale and long term; wombats are starving, dying of mange and being killed by cars and farmers. As you know they are adorable and precious... and really worth saving. Thanks for any help.
The reputation of the wombat declined over the 20th century and is now at an unforgivable all time low. People may be interested to read "Rossetti's Wombat: A Pre-Raphaelite Obsession in Victorian England". This lecture by Harold White Fellow, Angus Trumble, at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, 16 April, 2003, gives a little-known history of wombat appreciation in Britain by 19th century poets, who called the wombat "the most beautiful creature of all". Here is a quote from a description written about 200 years ago, about a pet wombat which was taken to England (not that we approve the kidnapping of wombats to England):
"The wombat, burrowed in the ground whenever it had an opportunity, and covered itself in the earth with surprising quickness. It was quiet during the day, but constantly in motion in the night: was very sensible to cold; ate all kinds of vegetables; but was particularly fond of new hay, which it ate stalk by stalk, taking it into its mouth like a beaver, by small bits at a time. It was not wanting in intelligence, and appeared attached to those to whom it was accustomed, and who were kind to it. When it saw them, it would put up its forepaws on the knee, and when taken up would sleep in the lap. It allowed children to pull and carry it about, and when it bit them did not appear to do it in anger or with violence."
Whilst we do not approve of kidnapping wombats, we do approve the peaceful and positive interaction with them and wonder why it does not happen more frequently in Australia. Perhaps it is because we have been misled by our governments and education system to believe that they are unapproachable. Maybe this is another case for Gloria O'Possum to investigate.
A hairy-nosed wombat community at Portee Station where this rare and persecuted animal is being rehabilitated and protected.
The site of the Wombat Awareness Organisation Ltd., Research Conservation Education Rescue Unit tells the rest of the 20th and 21st century story and that is where to go to purchase a little piece of outback Australia for the wonderful hairy-nosed wombat.
Here is a delightful film (link has been updated to new address)about this wombat refugee community in South Australia, run by Brigitte Stevens and her partner, Frank Mikela. It certainly bears out the earlier reputation of the wombat as a lovable and cuddly animal.
You may also sponsor a wombat, like this one, called, "Turty".
It is great to see a big effort being made to help wombats and the people who care for them with such dedication.
Brigitte Stevens still needs funding urgently, but urgently only for another 12 months or so, when the release of the first million dollar installment of an $8m bequest is scheduled to come through. Only recently has the news arrived that a US horse-racing millionaire has left to this organisation for wombats!
The millionaire's family has chosen to remain anonymous. According to Kim Wheatley, "US millionaire leaves estate to Wombat Awareness Organisation, the millionaire visited the organisation a couple of years ago to meet wild wombats.
He was shown the shameful conditions in which the South Australian government's laws and wildlife monitoring have reduced the wild population.
"I took him out into the wild population and showed him wombats with mange, wombats that were starving to death and wombats with burrows from motorbike tyres," she said.
Brigitte has another paid job just to pay the bills the organisation generates. According to Kim Wheatley's article, last year's vet fees amounted to $70,000. Now Brigitte hopes to buy two new properties and to run a 24 hour free veterinary advice clinic.
Ms Stevens - who works to help pay bills, including last year's $70,000 vet fees - wants to buy two properties in the Murraylands and run a 24-hour free vet advice phone clinic. But she is having trouble simply maintaining the Wombat Awareness Organisation at the minute, since the first installment of this bequest is still a long way off - around 12 months.
Please consider helping these kind and dedicated people to make it through to the time this windfall arrives.