BEING A KANYANA VOLUNTEER BY LORRAINE DUNN

LORRAINEA presentation by Kanyana has been organised for a school today at 9am. I have already spoken to the teacher involved, in order to assess their needs and the needs for the comfort and safety of the education animals.

I leave home at around 6am in order to get to Kanyana, pack up the animals, and travel to the school to begin my presentation at 9am. This means waking at 5am and feeding my animals at home before I leave.

I arrive at Kanyana at around 7am and meet the other volunteers who will be helping me. We grab the keys and head down to the animals’ enclosures to wake them up. Today we need to take an echidna to the school, and so begins the lengthy process of waking one up. I take the carry case into their enclosure and find where they’re sleeping. I tap the carry case with a honky nut. Yes, a honky nut. Most of the time, the echidna will wake up to the noise and flatten their body slightly – then you have 1/1000 of a second to quickly pick them up! If you miss your chance, you’re back to tapping the carry case again. This may take 20 minutes.

Next, we head to the Tawny Frogmouth enclosure and make sure we pack up the correct bird. After this, we head over to Boodies enclosure; he’s easy to pack up by opening his nest box and gently transferring him into a clean pouch in his carry case. Now it’s time to pack up our bilby, Juka. He’ll be sleeping in his nest box, so all we have to do is open that and place him in a pouch ready to travel in his carry case.

We have to make sure we remember to leave an ‘out on education’ sign on each of the animals so the hospital volunteers know where they are. All of these animals are now packed in the back of our Education van, and it’s time to drive up to a different part of Kanyana to pick up more animals. All of our carry cases are secure and lined with clean towels for the animals’ comfort. All cases have “Live animal” signs on their covers. That way if we are involved in a car accident the emergency services would be aware of our animal passengers.

Henry the red tailed black cockatoo gets to travel in his special bird backpack, belted into the van’s back seat, and even gets a packed lunch of vegetables and seed! While we’re near the hospital, we will collect some food for the other animals we have with us; special mince mix for the echidna, king worms for the Tawny and a rose for Boodie.

Finally, we drive over to the Reptile Room and choose two reptiles to take with us. Usually we take a bobtail and a python – I check when the pythons were last fed and if they are ok to take out with us.

It’s 8am and we’re ready to travel to the school. I lock in our destination in the GPS, fill out the car and animals log books, and we’re off.

Around 845am we arrive at the school and find our contact teacher. We set up in a classroom and get ready to receive the students. Most of our presentations are an hour long, but if the children are very young we sometimes do 30 minute presentations instead.

It’s now 1015am and we’ve finished our presentations for the day. We pack up the animals and load them back into the van for the drive back to Kanyana. We arrive back at around 11am, and now we need to put all the animals back in their enclosures! This might take another 30 minutes or so. Lastly, I remove any soiled towels or pouches from the carry cases and replace with fresh ones so they’re ready for the next education outing. The dirty laundry goes to the hospital for washing.

Now it’s time for a cup of tea with my fellow volunteers and then I’ll drive home.

It’s very rewarding educating, as most children and adults know very little about our Australian native animals. It could ignite an interest that could last a lifetime.

Lorraine Dunn
Education Volunteer since 2003