Every so often you will come across someone who shares an inspiring story with you, and it blows you off your feet. Brinkley's story is one of those.. reminding us that there there is still hope for the future of our environment.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I started off surfing when I was 4 years old, spending so much time at the beach is what has driven me to where I am today, adventure and curiosity has fuelled the fire a lot. Before I went to university I volunteered as a kid with a few different animal welfare organisations, and gained some experience with marine animals there. From there on out its all kept on growing, I've been making and taking opportunities since I have had my degree, and its leading me to exciting and interesting places all over.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a rural area on acreage with my family. I guess you would call it country but It was still coastal. We travelled to surf a lot when I was younger, and spent every holiday, long weekend at our beach shack down Yorke Peninsula.
What gets you out motivated and out of bed in the morning? (apart from Bunji & Ohana)
What gets me motivated to get out of bed every morning is yes, obviously Ohana and Bunji, haha but more than anything else my passion to continue working with animals, and helping the environment. Ill jump out of bed really quickly if there is no wind and the surf is good, haha. But at the moment I'm working on a number of different things including a number of projects for Balu Blue Foundation Inc. Our newly founded environmental organisation, which I am extremely excited and passionate about, all environmental of course, and look forward to sharing it with you guys soon!
I understand you are a Marine Biologist , Is there a particular area of Marine Biology that fascinates you the most or that you are more passionate about?
That’s a really hard question. Studying Marine Biology itself is extremely broad, and you can take it to wherever you please in life. I left University with a burning desire to see some marine animals underwater. This has led me to amazing opportunities and research areas as a volunteer. Growing up in South Australia has always led me to be fascinated by Great White Sharks. Working with the Whale Sharks of Ningaloo last year opened up a new obsession with that species, but in saying that my love for marine mammals (specifically toothed whales ) might always come out on top. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.
Beautiful Bunji, how did you come to her rescue and what has your journey with her been like so far?
Bunji is the survivor of an accident we unfortunately had at nighttime with a kangaroo and our 4WD. This is something that growing up in rural Australia you sadly will most likely have to deal with at sometime in your life. Even with all the caution in the world, wildlife do run on the road, and at nighttime its often impossible to see them coming.
The mother sadly passed away from the accident and Bunji had fallen out of her pouch. This was pretty traumatic and I want to share our story, as many people hit kangaroos and wombats every single day and never stop to check on the animal, or it’s pouch. Kangaroo joeys are also often orphaned by hunting of them in these areas, which saddens me greatly. Livestock farmers which have already cleared native scrubland that was once native habitat for animals such as emus, kangaroos and wombats, will shoot the native animals which come on to their property under the “ pest ” control method. Sadly there are also people who consider hunting Kangaroos a leisurely activity, whole pods are often shot down, and joeys are left to die. This is a common way these animals come into the hands of carers also.
When we found Bunji she was pink, known as “pinky”, which means she had no fur and her eyes were only just opening. I immediately put her straight on my bare skin under the three jackets I was wearing. She slept on my stomach in bed with us for the first few weeks to help her feel as if she was in the pouch and give her the best chance of survival. The most important thing with rescuing animals this young is warmth, followed by hydration. Kangaroos cannot be given cows milk as a substitute, they will pass away if you give it to them. They must be given warm water, or a Kangaroo milk substitute called Wombaroo, or similar.
Bunji was lucky to be two weeks old when we got her, we were told by wildlife vets to not get attached or expect her to survive because they die easily of many causes in this vulnerable state. I made it my absolute mission to make sure she survived. Both Ty and I are so proud of Bunji, she is now a healthy as can be. A 5 month old little fluffy Euro, with the strongest personality ever!
Being a wildlife carer is such a big task and takes a very special person to do such a thing. It has it’s challenges, what have a couple which you have experienced so far?
The first few weeks were by far the hardest, Bunji was so vulnerable, had no fur, no eyesight as far as we knew, and she couldn’t get the teet in her mouth on her own to feed at all. Joeys are so delicate at this age, the delicate handling of feeding her, toilet training her and keeping her warm and clean was the biggest challenge.
This included getting up during the night every 2-3 hours to feed her. Because she could only take in small amounts of the formula, it would sometime take her up to an hour to get through even 20ml. Sleep deprivation is a real thing! She now gets through 100ml in about 5 minutes and almost squeezes my fingers off she grips that hard when she drinks. We are so proud of her and how far she has come.
Another one of the biggest challenges has been explaining the bond we have formed with her, especially to people who consider Kangaroos to be “pests”. When you raise an animal from fetus size, it needs delicate handling, lots of love, warmth and comfort. Bunji was a complete in pouch joey before we got her and so we may be all she knows. It sure seems that way. She has certainly developed a confident and sassy personality in her 5 months. I will be interested to see how she progresses from here