21 July 2023

Wildlife volunteering is a labour of love for Cooktown woman

| Sarah Martin
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Cass Sorensen feeds her joeys several times a day with milk, greens and sweet potato.

A LOVE of animals and being able to release her charges back into the wild after successful rehabilitation keeps Cooktown’s Cass Sorensen passionate about her volunteer wildlife carer role.

The school teacher has been helping injured and orphaned native animals recover for the past 15 years, and has no plans of stopping any time soon.

“I love knowing there is a service available for people to bring wildlife to be cared for, and that they are going to be rehabilitated and go back to the wild,” Ms Sorensen said.

She said it was important for people to remember that not only was it not in the animal’s best interests to be kept as a pet, it was also illegal.

“It’s really really sad to see someone that has kept an animal for too long, or given a joey cow’s milk or baby formula and it’s got cataracts and is blind,” she said.

“They’re not pets and they are able to be rehabilitated and released back to the wild if they are taken to a wildlife carer.”

Cass Sorensen is caring for 14 orphaned wallabies at her Cooktown property.

Ms Sorensen is currently caring for 14 wallaby joeys of various ages, but over the years has had all sorts of animals from hawks, magpie geese and tawny frogmouths to possums, gliders and kangaroos.

“I get heaps of birds, they’re just gorgeous,” she said.

“Once we had a Torres Strait pigeon who was too small to migrate with his flock so he stayed around here and when the birds came back the next year he flew away with them, but a year later he came back to say hello.

“That was pretty special.”

Ms Sorensen said being part of Far North Queensland Wildlife Rescue allowed her to access a network of animal specialists.

“Everyone has specialised knowledge. If I get an animal I’m not used to or a bird I can’t identify, I can reach out and get expert information, or send the animal to another carer who is an expert,” she said.

Ms Sorensen specialises in caring for joeys when they start to outgrow the pouch and are ready to explore the world.

“I get them usually from about 1.5kg and raise them until they’re ready to be released and do a soft release near the property,” she said.

One of the joeys' favourite foods is sweet potato, which can be donated to the sanctuary at Q-Cumbers Greengrocers.

One of the joeys’ favourite foods is sweet potato, which can be donated to the sanctuary at Q-Cumbers Greengrocers.

Feeding mobs of ravenous wallabies who require thrice-daily milk feeds and kilograms of sweet potato to supplement their grass diet doesn’t come cheap, but there are ways Cooktown locals can support Ms Sorensen’s work.

“Q-Cumbers Greengrocers are great, they have a donation box where people can leave money, and also a box where people can buy a sweet potato and leave it for the wallabies,” she said.

“Hinterland Aviation are also exceptional, whenever I have a joey that is too small they will take it down to carers who specialise in the little ones, and bring the older ones back up to me, and also take any animals who need the vet down to Cairns free of charge.”

If you find an injured or orphaned native animal, contact FNQ Wildlife Rescue on their 24-hour hotline by phoning 4053 4467.

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