Befriending the animals
Cherry Gardens animal rescue centre Minton Farm is restoring native wildlife back to health and home in the Onkaparinga region and beyond.
The genuine affection Bev Langley has for the creatures in her care is evident as she walks around her property talking to the “kids”.
Minton Farm was established in 1992 as a free community service to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned or unwanted native animals. The centre’s focus is squarely on the animals’ quality of life. The goal is to rehabilitate the animals as quickly and as completely as possible so they can be safely returned to their territory.
The centre receives no core funding, relying entirely on fundraising efforts, grants, donations and its band of volunteers. In nearly 30 years of service, more than 12,500 animals have been on Minton Farm’s rescue table. There are around 300 animals permanently onsite.
There are many success stories of healthy animals leaving Minton Farm. During the recent bushfires in the Adelaide Hills, Bev took in Simon the koala, from Birdwood, and Ethel the echidna, from Lobethal.
Simon had suffered burns to his hands, chin and eye. After having his wounds treated and enjoying a nourishing feast of leaves, Simon was returned to a continuous canopy of River Red Gums along a creek line on a no-through road.
“Simon’s release was so emotional because he watched me the whole time. The idea is not to bond with the animal so that it remains wild, but I definitely have a connection with the kids. They trust me, and that’s the best part,” Bev says.
Ethel hid under a house at Lobethal for more than a week with severe burns to her feet, her rear and her beak. Slowly, Ethel recovered, but her missing toenails prevent her from digging for white ants. She could not be released back to her territory. Instead, Ethel is living in Cleland Wildlife Park, which has a close partnership with Minton Farm.
“Ethel is safe at Cleland, which is all we want,” Bev says.
A modern continuous flight enclosure for birds of prey has recently been constructed and put to use on the grounds of Minton Farm. The ‘freedom flight’ is the first of its kind in South Australia, spanning 12 metres and standing six metres high, with an enclosure in the centre. Minton Farm received a grant from council to help fund the project. Allowing a bird to fly continuously, rather than up and back, rapidly builds its muscle tone and hastens its recovery.
“We’ve had a few bird releases in recent months and the birds wouldn’t have achieved such high levels of fitness without the freedom flight,” Bev says.
If you find an animal in need of care and want to bring it to Minton Farm, Bev has some advice. The most important thing, she says, is to record where the animal was found.
“Animals are territorial; they have families, food sources and homes that they know. That’s how they can survive. If an animal is dumped into another territory, the animals that live there will kill it. If nothing else is recorded, simply jot down on a piece of paper where the animal was discovered,” Bev says.
“It’s also critical that an injured animal is not fed too soon. The animal will be in shock and in pain, and it needs blood to flow to its essential organs, rather than its digestive system.
“Cover the animal to minimise stimulation. Keep it quiet, and keep it warm. A box with a covered hot water bottle at one end so that animal can move off it will keep it warm without becoming dehydrated. Then bring it in so we can start administering pain relief and antibiotics.
“These things will help give the animal the best chance.”
Members of the public are frequently coming down the driveway with an injured animal, and Bev says they’re always welcome. “Ideally not at 2am!” she says with a laugh. If the gate is shut at Minton Farm upon arrival, an injured animal can be placed in the aviary on the footpath along with a note stating the rescuer’s name and telephone number, and where the animal was found.
It’s the volunteers that are the backbone of Minton Farm, according to Bev.
A group of 10 to 12 adult volunteers are onsite every Tuesday and Thursday.
“Some of our volunteers have been here for 10 years or more,” Bev says. “The camaraderie here is beautiful. We have lots of coffee and lots of laughter.”
Aside from donations of money to aid Minton Farm in its service, Bev and her team are in constant need of food for the animals. Donations of fresh fruit and vegetables, small parrot mix, plain breakfast cereals, and hay, chaff and pellets are appreciated.
Minton Farm, along with the CFS Foundation and SA Bushfire Appeal, received funds from the cancellation of fireworks at council’s Australia Day Bush Fair along with donations made on entry.
A PLACE TO HEAL
Bev Langley is restoring animals' quality of life; Volunteers helping feed the animals; Ethel the echidna exploring; The 'Freedom Flight' enclosure has recently been constructed to rehabilitate birds of prey; Fresh fruit and vegetables are needed in constant supply for the animals in care.