Michael happily admits that the late great Steve Irwin was his “hero” growing up, and now he’s actively continuing the work of that legend after becoming a frontline volunteer for wildlife rescue service, WIRES.
“I’ve had a massive passion for animals ever since I was a young kid,” explains the Amazon Australia Enterprise Account manager, who regularly shares his house in southern Sydney with injured snakes, blue tongue lizards and possums.
“Steve Irwin is still, today, my hero, and I’m very passionate about conservation. I wanted to stop being one of these guys who are always sharing articles about conservation on social media and get onto the frontline - and WIRES has given me that perfect opportunity.”
Michael, 36, has been recognised as an Amazon Star for his commitment to saving animals and gifted $1,000 by Amazon which also made a donation to WIRES to assist in the fight to rescue hurt and distressed wildlife.
He was inspired to volunteer after seeing the devastating toll that droughts, major fires and more recently terrible floods was having on “fragile wildlife”, including the loss of thousands of koalas in the 2020 bushfires alone.
He joined WIRES – which stands for the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services – in the middle of the pandemic in 2020, but only began rescuing animals after completing his training six months ago.
His first rescue call out was from a woman who lived just three streets away from his home, who had found an abandoned or lost baby ringtail possum. “It turned out it was a pair of twin baby ringtail possums, a boy and a girl!” he says.
One top of answering calls to rescue distressed or injured wildlife. Michael, who keeps pythons and ridge-tailed monitors as pets, also opens his home to an array of animals that need fostering before they can be released into the wild.
“Just in the last week, I’ve had three blue-tongued lizards staying with me and a baby brushtail possum sharing my study with me, and in the six months I’ve been with WIRES I’ve done 140 rescues and taken in about 40 animals,” he says.
WIRES receives over 130,000 calls a year and Michael says those calls for help can involve anything from possums in someone’s roof or veranda to lizards, kangaroos and koalas hit by cars to birds and chicks falling out of nests.
“It is hard at times,” he says, but every animal saved makes his heart sing.
“To see an animal from the moment you rescue it, to the moment you release it, is incredibly rewarding,” he says.
For more information about how you can volunteer or make a donation to WIRES go to https://www.wires.org.au/