[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_col-lg-1/5 vc_col-md-1/5 vc_col-xs-1/5″][us_image image=”86546″ size=”thumbnail” align=”left” style=”circle” has_ratio=”1″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/12″ offset=”vc_col-lg-4/5 vc_col-md-4/5 vc_col-xs-4/5″][vc_column_text]By Karlene Brummer[/vc_column_text][us_post_date][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Ben Dessen is the Director of Zambi Native Wildlife sanctuary at Dural – a non-profit animal charity with a mission to help Native animals in need. Ben (31) and his brother Sam (27) are also the live- in Caretakers.
The two brothers grew up in Dural and both attended Northolm. After Ben left school he went on to complete an Animal Science and Conservation Biology Degree at Western Sydney University. As well as looking after the Sanctuary, Ben works as the Manager of Kellyville Pets and has regular spots on TV as the Resident Animal Expert for Studio 10.
He recently completed working on a five part series for Playschool, called “Playschool’s Amazing Animals” which is currently streaming on Iview, and to top it off has written a book called ‘The Ultimate Pet Handbook’ with forewords by Dr Harry Cooper and Bob Irwin.
Between all of Ben’s busy work commitments, his daily routine at the Sanctuary consists of feeding and watering the animals, conducting welfare and health checks, cleaning the enclosures, mowing, weeding and general maintenance of the property.
The Zambi Native Wildlife Sanctuary – originally known as the Kangaroo Protection Cooperative, was the brainchild of Ms Marjorie Wilson, who in 1977 approached the then NSW Premier, Mr Neville, with her vision of a Sanctuary for injured or orphan Macropods. Her passionate persistence paid off and amazingly she was gifted 35 acres of crown land in Carters Road Dural.
This land was to be held as a Sanctuary in perpetuity. Ms Wilson passed away in 2013 and her estate was bequeathed to the sanctuary in order to keep it running. A series of caretakers then lived on the property until they were no longer to keep up with the demanding labour that was necessary due to age or ill health. Ben and Sam were approached to see if they would like the position and moved there in 2014. They quickly got to work cleaning up the place and with the help of numerous mates and members of the community set about building new enclosures, fencing and landscaping.
Five years later, the bushfires of 2019 forced their hand to expand as they were inundated with injured and displaced native animals. Urgent funds were needed and they then formed a partnership with Zambi Wildlife Retreat at Wallacia who helped them considerably with resources. The sanctuary was renamed to reflect this partnership and is now a ‘forever home’ for unreleasable native animals and a temporary home for animals who need to be ‘rewilded’ and released back into the bush.
The Sanctuary has a purpose built Education Centre on site, which is made available to train carers from various wildlife organisations but Ben and Sam’s biggest hope and dream is to establish on site, a hospital for native animals, to relieve pressure from local vets – who most often treat these animals that people bring in – for free. The nearest facility that specializes in this is Taronga Zoo, which is way too far for most people to travel to.
Whilst the Native Animal Hospital plan is just in its inception phase, Zambi Native Wildlife Sanctuary is desperately seeking sponsors – both monetary and ‘in kind’ to help with existing and future projects, including a partially started Dingo Enclosure. A grant from Bendigo Bank has been a very welcome help, but builders/landscapers/concretors etc who can spare a day or two here or there to help out as well as volunteers who can just lend a hand with gardening, raking and cleaning would be most welcome.
For future working bee dates and further information please see: https://www.facebook.com/ zambinativewildlifesanctuary[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]