A local hero in more than one way, a registered volunteer for the fire brigade and an active volunteer and advocate for creatures big and small.
For Madeline Newbery, providing a home for sick or injured animals began at a very young age. Now 22 years old, she has saved and re homed more than 100 animals and wildlife.
By the age of 6 Maddy had already discovered her love for caring and began taking in stray and rescue wildlife, with the help of her father Martin Newbery. He is a volunteer with WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), which has been rescuing and looking after native animals since 1985 and is Australia’s largest wildlife organisation which receive over 150 000 calls a year about wildlife in trouble. Maddy’s passion for animals begun when her father gave her a rescued Rainbow Lorikeet as a present for her 6th birthday, a few months after that she started helping her father care for his other rescues, “I remember when dad gave me Big Bird, (the Lorikeet), after that I loved caring for birds, they are so cute and vulnerable without their feathers, they rely on you for everything. I was feeding them every half hour when they were new born and watching them grow, when dad thought I was ready I then helped with the other rescues”.
Soon after discovering her love for animals she set up her garage as a sanctuary for the wildlife in her care and looked after them from there, the wildlife ranged from possums to birds and lizards. Maddy moved back to her birthplace, Singapore for 4 years when she was 13 and her passion followed her, feeding local stray cats and dogs every day after school.
When returning to Australia Maddy had already decided she wanted to work with animals, getting a part time job at a local pet store in Heathcote helping clean cages and feed the animals. She soon realised that not all people share the same love as she did and has a few horror stories from working there. “ At first I loved working there, it was so much fun learning about everything, except they didn’t treat the animals like I thought they would and I talked to my boss but she seemed to think her work was normal”. After quitting the pet shop she picked up a job at Pet Barn, which she still works at today and loves.
Early 2010 Maddy also began working at Symbio Zoo in Helensburgh and had the amazing opportunity to work with crocodiles and snakes, which she described as the most rewarding experience. While still at school Maddy was able to get work experience with Taronga Zoo and work with people who loved animals just as much as she did. “ I loved it there! My favourite animal was definitely the giraffe, for an animal that makes little noise they have the biggest personalities”.
Maddy’s father has played an immense part in her life, teaching her the basic care needs for the wildlife and showing her how to use her love for animals in a way that has saved hundreds of recues and strays over the years. “My dad has taught me everything I know, he is so great with animals I have him to thanks for everything, without him I would not be where I am today”. Martin works as Jakarta based trade director for Australia and recently helped free 12 fairy penguins from becoming a exhibition in a zoo in southern Australia. Maddy says he is her role model and she is so proud to call him her father.
It has not always been happy times with Maddy, caring for so many animals holds a lot more responsibility and it becomes easy to lose control of the situation. “I have a rescue Bull Arab puppy that was found in a puppy mill and all her family was dead, I got a call from a friend and I immediately welcomed her to her new family, very shy and scared of people it was hard to break her habits. She killed one of my chickens when she was 8 months old, when I came home to that it was horrible, she’s an amazing dog now and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but it took a long time for her to warm up to me”. Maddy’s life is a constant rush and she never really has time to herself with so many creatures around, She fell into depression during exam time in 2010 as she needed to study but had so many responsibilities, she struggled with school and decided not to have the stress of studying for an ATAR. “Depression is a scary thing, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning because you have so many animals depending you on for their survival, it puts a lot of stress on you.” After talking to her father and getting help with her daily duties Maddy realised that the loves she receives back from her pets is all worth it.
After finishing school in 2010 Maddy was hired at Hanrob Pet Hotel in Heathcote and was trained as a pet welfare and dog trainer. Working full time here and opening up her house to as many animals as it could fit. Working and caring for her pets was not easy, as her rabbits and guinea pigs kept having babies, “when I came home after work and saw my guinea pig Tinkerbelle had babies I was so surprised, she didn’t even look pregnant, I had to give her babies to a friend because the baby litter was getting picked on, it surprising but even the babies mother rejected them”. Juggling work and home life became chaotic for Maddy and animals were becoming sick and things were getting over her head. Her ferret Daisy which she had hand reared since she was born became very ill and was not eating, she took her to the vet and found out she had Lymphoma cancer, tumors formed and spread throughout her body and she had to be put down. Maddy became depressed and thought of giving up caring for animals at home as she thought she could not handle another death. “Daisy’s death killed a little part of me too, I couldn’t work for days and I just wanted her back, she was amazing and I did not think I could watch another animal die in my hands, it was so hard”.
After talking to her father Maddy decided she wanted to become a vet. She wanted to be able to help animals and she knew this was the best way to do it. Next year Maddy will be attending the University of Sydney studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and research animal’s diseases and lifespan. One day hoping she can open up her own vet and specialise in ferrets, also doing home call outs because she knows how hard to can be to get to the vet in opening hours, especially if your pet becomes sick during the night, she wants people to know she will be there around the clock if something went wrong.”I know the feeling when a pet becomes sick overnight and you are worried they won’t make it through the night, I want to be there for everyones pet during those crucial hours”. Maddy has wanted nothing more than to be around and work with animals since she can remember and she thinks this is the best step to take towards making her dreams come true.