At the height of Australia’s devastating bushfires, heart-wrenching images of orphaned kangaroos and koalas seemed inescapable. Their pleading eyes inspired thousands of people worldwide to get crafty.
But in the last month, Australian wildlife groups have been inundated with pouches, mittens and crochet nests for injured animals, more than enough to last them through the months of recovery ahead.
Now, they’d like their well-intentioned supporters to stop, please.
The Animal Rescue Craft Guild, which since December has led a global effort to craft items for animals injured in the bushfires, has asked donors to hit pause on sewing and siphon their aid elsewhere.
“PLEASE do not send any more items to Australia,” the guild wrote in an announcement to the 233,500-plus international members in its Facebook group. “We guarantee there are animal rescue organizations in need near you.”
And if there’s demand for more sewn items, the guild is calling on Australian volunteers only.
Wildcare Australia Inc., a rescue organization in Queensland, echoed the guild’s request. The group’s been sent enough joey pouches, it said, and can’t accept more.
Animals need a different kind of care now
Crafting for Australian animals gave international bystanders a sense of purpose in what felt like a hopeless disaster. Young children, nursing home residents and prison inmates, plus hundreds of thousands of private volunteers with varying levels of crafting experience, learned to sew and crochet for the animals they’d seen limping or crying on social media.
Fire risk is still high in several regions in Australia. The need for pouches could quickly resume if the blazes worsen, but the injured animals need a different kind of care for now.
Australian charities aren’t turning down all forms of aid. The Animal Rescue Craft Guild, which distributes supplies to several local rescue hubs, said their affiliates need money for food for all the animals they’ve swaddled in homemade nests and mittens.
If supporters still want to craft, the guild suggested they crochet animal toys and donate their sales back to animal rescue organizations.
Wildlife Australia Inc. continues to accept cleaning supplies to help wash the injured animals, wood to build nests for displaced birds and monetary donations. Healing Hands Wildlife Care in the Great Southern region has given volunteers instructions on how to build watering pods for wildlife to visit during extreme drought.