Wild wombat attack: ‘I was worried we would die’

 

A family of animal lovers, who raised wombats to star in legendary TV series A Country Practice, have been left devastated and bleeding after a horrifying wombat attack.

The family is struggling with how they were forced to kill the marsupial to protect their great-granddaughter - after devoting their lives to protecting native wildlife.

While harming native wildlife is illegal, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has said it will not be investigating the incident.

Jeanette Ambrose, 78, is still recuperating from bite wounds while her daughter, Kim, remains on crutches after rebreaking her injured ankle and badly hurting a finger during the early morning attack.

Jeanette Ambrose, 78, and her daughter Kim were attacked by a wild wombat. Picture: Peter Lorimer
Jeanette Ambrose, 78, and her daughter Kim were attacked by a wild wombat. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Mrs Ambrose had spent much of the 1980s rearing wombats to play Fatso in A Country Practice but was surprised to find one at her family's private wildlife sanctuary, about 20km from Dubbo, in May.

"I did think to myself it was a little strange. This isn't wombat country. So I assumed he was friendly and used to humans and had got out from somewhere,'' Mrs Ambrose said.

But, as the wombat made its way towards her front door, it suddenly charged at her.

Mrs Ambrose's 11-year-old great-granddaughter Nazarena was behind her.

A Country Practice actor Brian Wenzel with Fatso the wombat.
A Country Practice actor Brian Wenzel with Fatso the wombat.

"He looked up and then tried to run straight past me into the place,'' Mrs Ambrose said.

"I knew I had to try to hold him or he would get to Nazarena. That was my biggest fear.

"He bowled me over and I was yelling at her to stay away and call for help and this wombat just started gouging into my leg.

"I tried to push his head away but he was just too big and strong. And he just kept biting and biting. He was so cranky.''

Her daughter Kim, who was on crutches with a broken ankle, hobbled the 50m from her cabin when she heard the commotion.

She had earlier seen the wombat when she had heard some scratching at her door and looked out to see him charge the door.

He then turned on her as she tried to help protect her mother.

"He just charged and he was onto me,'' Kim Ambrose said.

"He had pushed me over and was onto the backs of my legs. Each bite was excruciating.''

Jeanette's horrific leg injuries after the wombat latched on.
Jeanette's horrific leg injuries after the wombat latched on.

As the wombat continued biting her legs, Kim started to get concerned about him hitting an artery.

"The bites were that deep I was worried we would die,'' she said.

"He was so powerful and relentless. I didn't think it would stop.''

Kim's daughter Gemma had heard the yelling and tried to help.

But she was also bowled over before the wombat started biting her legs and thighs.

"If he got to our faces, he would have bitten our noses off. He was not going to stop,'' Mrs Ambrose said.

Kim grabbed a shovel then returned to try and drive the wombat away, only to fall and reinjure her ankle.

Jeanette Ambrose and her daughter Kim at the scene of the horrifying wombat attack. Picture: Peter Lorimer
Jeanette Ambrose and her daughter Kim at the scene of the horrifying wombat attack. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Gemma's husband Khodr and a neighbour arrived and tried to help but they were unable to stop the repeated attacks and were forced to kill the wombat with an axe.

"Wild wombats are generally very shy animals that will go to great lengths to avoid humans and an interaction such as this between a wild wombat and humans is very unusual," a NPWS spokesman said.

"Sometimes native animals can behave unpredictably when threatened and should be left alone.

Some of the baby wombats raised by Jeanette Ambrose.
Some of the baby wombats raised by Jeanette Ambrose.

"NPWS was not aware of this incident and is unlikely to investigate given the period of time that has elapsed.

"NPWS reminds people that all native fauna is protected in NSW and so should not be harmed.

"It's important that people keep a safe distance from our native animals to avoid causing stress, which may result in negative behaviour."

Originally published as Wild wombat attack: 'I was worried we would die'

Jeanette's late husband Frank with the twin Fatso wombats.
Jeanette's late husband Frank with the twin Fatso wombats.
Kim’s finger was also injured in the wombat attack.
Kim’s finger was also injured in the wombat attack.
Wallabies coming in for a feed at the sanctuary in January. The family cares for our wildlife.
Wallabies coming in for a feed at the sanctuary in January. The family cares for our wildlife.

COVID: What you can and can’t do in Qld right now

Premium Content COVID: What you can and can’t do in Qld right now

Deputy Premier rules out any changes to restrictions this weekend

Doctors push to re-open maternity wards on the Western Downs

Premium Content Doctors push to re-open maternity wards on the Western Downs

THE Rural Doctors Association has urged all political candidates to put forward...

‘Move on’: Ex-Qld Labor premier backs NSW in border wars

Premium Content ‘Move on’: Ex-Qld Labor premier backs NSW in border wars

Peter Beattie says Queensland must follow NSW’s lead