THE HEALING GAME: Dedicated wildlife carer Donna Anthony with CC. Her voluntary work is virtually a full-time job.
THE HEALING GAME: Dedicated wildlife carer Donna Anthony with CC. Her voluntary work is virtually a full-time job. Kari Bourne

It's just animal magnetism

MANY animal lovers might think the idea of surrounding themselves with furry, feathered, or finned friends on a day-to-day basis would be heaven.

But what exactly motivates those few who choose to dedicate their entire home and working lives to protecting and caring for creatures, great and small?

Whether they are tending to pets, farm animals, or native wildlife, a number of Coast locals are bringing their passion for helping animals into their daily lives.

Yandina resident Donna Anthony has cared and rehabilitated wild animals for nearly a decade.

Before joining the Sunshine Coast's Wildlife Volunteers Association in 1995, Donna lived up north where she looked after indigenous animals in a tourist nature park outside Cairns for several years.

"I guess why I do this is because I've always appreciated the wildlife, and the challenges that our wildlife are facing because of development," Donna said.

"When I moved down here, I wanted to continue looking after animals with a local wildlife organisation.

"So I picked up the phonebook and found WILVOS, and I've been with them ever since."

While her position as WILVOS vice-chairperson is purely volunteer, the 61-year-old retiree said the number of hours she dedicated to wildlife care could easily rival a full-time job.

"You start off with allocating time caring for the animals that are brought in. Then there are admin tasks that need to be done, teaching other members about wildlife care, and before you know it, you're doing 18 hours a day, seven days a week," Donna said.

Donna is one of 130 WILVOS carers who take in injured or distressed wildlife before rehabilitating the animals back into their natural habitats across the Coast.

At home, Donna has been known to look after animals needing around-the-clock care such as macropods, possums, gliders, and echidnas.

"That's the part I love doing: the other parts are a chore," Donna laughed. "I absolutely love it. It just gives you a real purpose and direction, and you see the need for (wildlife care) more and more.

"Most of the animals that come in for care were the result of human impact, whether it's motorbike accidents, their habitats being demolished, or being attacked by people's cats and dogs.

"There's a duty of care. We've been responsible for what has happened to them, so the least we could do is to help them."

Twenty-three-year-old university student Elizabeth Harris is also willing to take a more hands-on approach to animals, with her love of "anything cute and cuddly" as a child eventually steering her towards her dream of working as a vet.

The Tanawha resident recently made the move to switch from studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science to Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland, starting next semester.

Having grown up in an animal-loving family, Elizabeth believed caring for other critters was always second nature to her.

"My family's always loved animals," Elizabeth said.

"Ever since I was a toddler, I remember us making those trips to refuges every now and then just so we could bring home a pet that needed a real home.

"We ended up having about four dogs, two cats, a few pet rats and even a galah at the one time.

"I know Dad didn't want us having so many animals in the end, but we loved sharing a happy house with some new family members."

Elizabeth recalled always wanting to help animals as a profession back from when she was in primary school, with the hope of one day becoming a zookeeper, or working with the RSPCA.

But after her first year at university, Elizabeth decided to revive her childhood dream and enrol into UQ's School of Veterinary Science.

"I always had that dream of helping animals when I grew up, and I'm excited I can finally do it as a future vet," Elizabeth said.

"Just the chance to get up close with animals, getting to know them, and nursing them back to health ... well, that's probably one of the most important things humans can do."

Animal rights campaigner and Vegan Warriors founder Jaylene Musgrave believes her love for animals and her outspokenness against animal cruelty stemmed from a young age when she first realised the harsh realities of livestock slaughter.

"I grew up in Kilcoy, minutes away from the slaughterhouse where my father was a meat inspector," Jaylene said.

"Each day, I started to realise the connection between the abattoir and what my beautiful mum would serve us each night at tea."

Nearly three decades on and Jaylene has since embraced the environmentally-minded lifestyle of a vegan and avid animal rights activist.

For years, Jaylene has stood by many animal rights campaigns, including the protection of Fraser Island dingoes and the Coast's kangaroo population, and demonstrating against bull-riding, land clearing and factory-farming practices.

"If not for those of us that are seen as different and difficult, then who will help give a voice to the voiceless?" Jaylene asked.

"To look any animal in the eyes and know that I am doing as much as I can to help them is spiritually fulfilling ... to live a life with true meaning."

Following a vibrant career in the music industry as a publicist to some of the biggest names in Australian music, Jaylene created unfunded animal rights group Vegan Warriors in 2006.

She said her motivation had been to give poorly treated animals a voice.

Founding Vegan Warriors also went hand-in-hand with Jaylene's ultimate choice to turn vegan.

She believed adopting a vegan diet meant she could play her own small part in ensuring betterment of animals and the environment.

"To live a life as a vegan is to live a life where a heavy burden is lifted off your shoulders," Jaylene said.

"One where I very proudly say, 'I love animals' and know how authentically I live my life."

Hollywood's animal lovers Betty White - This Golden Girl has been a proud animal lover and pet owner for decades, having also sat on the board of directors for the Morris Animal Foundation for more than 25 years, and is currently a board member for the non-profit organisation Actors and Others for Animals.

Paul McCartney - The former Beatle is a strong advocate of animal rights and vegetarianism with his late wife Linda McCartney and former wife Heather Mills. He was once quoted to say in a PETA video, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian."

Charlize Theron - The Oscar-winning actor is not only a brand ambassador for Best Friends Animal Society, but is also an active member of PETA, having posed for PETA's anti-fur campaign adverts and narrated a documentary on PETA's undercover investigation on puppy mills.

Brigitte Bardot - After filming more than 40 movies, French actress Brigitte Bardot chose to dedicate her life and fame to promoting animal rights and establishing the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals, which works directly with animal refuges and rescues.

>> Read more lifestyle stories.

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