19 April 2024

Cape York wildlife rehab plan takes shape for globetrotting Cooktown advocate

| Lyndon Keane
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Cooktown’s Beau Peberdy on the stage presenting at the 2024 Education and Conservation Society of Macropodidae conference in the United States. Photo: Supplied.

Cooktown resident Beau Peberdy is getting plenty of stamps on his passport as he juggles his passions for animal rehabilitation and youth mental health.

Mr Peberdy has just returned to Cape York from the United States, where he presented at a global conference on macropod welfare and management, before touring American facilities housing kangaroos and wallabies.

He told Cape York Weekly his trip also allowed him to incorporate his passion for mental health when liaising with the veterinary and wildlife staff working with macropods and a diverse range of endangered species.

“For the past few years, I have been presenting to the Education and Conservation Society of Macropodidae on conservation and captive husbandry, improving husbandry standards for macropods – large-footed animals like kangaroos – in the US,” he explained.

“Then, after the conferences, I travelled across the south, where I looked at facilities holding kangaroos and wallabies, and helped owners improve their husbandry standards so they could provide a higher level of care for our Aussie icons.

“I also talk about mental health in the wildlife and animal industry, as veterinary staff, farmers, animal shelter attendants, wildlife rehabbers, and zookeepers tend to have a high level of depression, and some even have the highest mortality rate due to suicide; I speak about mental health and create awareness with a program I founded called the Green Ribbon Project.”

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Mr Peberdy said his recent overseas trips, including a 2023 visit to work with a sanctuary in Costa Rica, had only bolstered his love of wildlife.

“I have a passion for wildlife, and have worked with animals both in a wild setting and in captivity for many years,” he said.

“I love helping people with the same passion I possess to better their understanding of captive husbandry, wildlife rehabilitation, and all while exploring personal feelings and beliefs.”

Beau Peberdy is picture of calm as he poses for a photo with a venomous Gila monster. Photo: Supplied.

The animal and mental health advocate said he was now working with stakeholders to open a new rehabilitation organisation on Cape York, adding he hoped it would provide international support for the staggering cost of supporting sick and injured wildlife.

“For almost 18 years, I have been a part of wildlife rescue in Australia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, and the USA,” he said.

“I have chaired for a few large wildlife rehab organisations but, very shortly, we will be opening our own for Cape York, as we are finalising all the paperwork now.

“Wildlife rehab is a very expensive and it’s a voluntary program we do, not to mention it’s incredibly tiring.

“Funding and donations are really hard to come by, so working with other international organisations and businesses to seek involvement and funding will allow us carers from Cape York to improve our practices and lighten the financial burden of being a wildlife carer.”

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As the next stage in his involvement with animals takes shape, Mr Peberdy said he knew from an early age they would play a pivotal role in his life.

“From as young as I can remember, I have always loved animals,” he reflected.

“Collecting the drunk [lorikeets] off the ground in mango season, or collecting chicks off the ground and taking them home to mum, and she would show me how to feed and look after them.

“My love for snakes grew as I got older, and I would always be the one to collect the pythons from the bird cages.”

Mr Peberdy urged Cape York landholders to contact him to discuss collaborating on wildlife rehabilitation projects.

“We would love to hear from landowners from around the Cape who might want to work with us for release sites, or from people who might want to assist physically and financially,” he said.

“This also includes when we have more land to help erect fence lines and create safe havens for animals.

“If anyone wants to get involved, we would love assistance with grant writing and transporters, and would love to take on a few more dedicated people to mentor.”

Beau Peberdy assists with wildlife rehabilitation during a visit to a sanctuary in Costa Rica in 2023. Photo: Supplied.

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