The story of Hepburn Wildlife Shelter starts in 2005 when our founders Jon & Gayle purchased a 27-acre bushland property adjoining the Hepburn Regional Park specifically for the running of the wildlife shelter and plan to establish a permanent and lasting treatment and care facility for wildlife in the region.
From there they put everything they had into wildlife care: Income, Time, Personal Space, Scientific Training and a significant Emotional Investment.
As the shelter continued to grow it became apparent that caring for the myriad of injured and orphaned native wildlife that found themselves at the shelter would become a 24/7 commitment for Jon & Gayle.
With no available government funding, the shelter grew with support from generous donors and volunteers from throughout the region.
Today Hepburn Wildlife Shelter houses an average of 100 animals (wildlife) in care at any one time and in addition to those in care we receive around 1000 wildlife calls to respond to each year.
Many of our patients require intensive care and treatments and some small orphans need feeding every 2 hours. A typical day is dominated by the regular rounds of feeding (and toileting of very young ones) and cleaning but at any time this routine can be interrupted by a call to action to attend to a diverse and often shocking variety of animals in distress.
Calls vary from dehydrated lizards, baby birds fallen out of nests and bats discovered in roof space, to the horrors of mangy wombats with flyblown wounds, kangaroos caught up and hanging in fences or fallen down mineshafts and animals of all varieties involved in grisly road traumas with severed or broken limbs, concussion and bloody wounds – Even in the worst cases, there are always orphaned pouch young to consider.
At the current level of support for their work Gayle and Jon must provide the vast majority of the funds for the care work at the Hepburn Wildlife Shelter, as well as the expertise and the physical work. Additional volunteer help at the shelter is essential to our operation in order to keep up with the workload. Issues such as drought, bushfires, wildlife culling, prescribed burning of wildlife habitat, residential and commercial development and increased traffic on the roads all contribute to our workload.
Fortunately, we enjoy our work immensely!
Gayle is trained and qualified in wildlife husbandry and rehabilitation. She is highly regarded in the wildlife care industry for her expertise and activity, including her research and her key role in establishing the highly successful annual National Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference. She is currently compiling several books on wildlife care and rehabilitation and is research coordinator for a wombat survey and mange treatment program for Common wombats in the Wombat Forest. She has taught wildlife husbandry and rehabilitation at Victoria University and was a kangaroo and wombat species advisor for Wildlife Victoria.
Jon has a professional background in environmental consulting specialising in the management and ecology of natural lands, and in university research and teaching. He has a long history with environmental education and advocacy. He has worked with numerous groups such as Friends of the Earth, Environment Victoria and the Wilderness Society on key environmental issues. Jon also held the position of President of Wildlife Victoria. Before founding the shelter Jon worked as an illustrator of children’s books and educational material and has received international awards for short animated natural history films.