A kangaroo joey has been given a second chance at life after being dropped from the sky by an eagle in eastern Victoria.
Coldstream Hills woman Michelle Oliver was riding her horse when she saw the large bird fly overhead.
“Next minute he came flying above me, and I could see something in his claws,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“For some reason when he’s landed in the branch he’s dropped what he was carrying.”
The eagles drop their prey on a weekly basis around Ms Oliver’s property, so she wasn’t initially surprised by what happened.
“Normally I do not interfere, because we see lots of animals killing other animals and that’s just the way nature works,” she said.
On this occasion, her dog, Panda, had other ideas.
Dog protects kangaroo joey from hungry eagles
Hearing a noise of distress coming from the paddock, Ms Oliver was quick to realise the species of animal which had been dropped.
“I could hear a clicking sound and thought: it’s a bloody kangaroo,” she said.
“I was thinking it was going to be half mangled.”
Panda, her six-year-old blue heeler, took off up the paddock, determined to protect the creature from the eagle which had dropped it.
The bird was in a nearby tree, alongside its partner, and they were squawking in frustration at having their meal stolen.
Ms Oliver raced after her dog and realised the joey was largely unscathed and “just sort of flopping around”.
“It was pretty well unharmed, amazingly,” she said.
“But the poor thing has had a pretty horrific ordeal having been plucked from its mother, flown through the air, then fallen from a fair height.
“The fact that it survived all that, I felt I should give it the next chance and let it survive.”
Joey doing well in care after rescue
Panda continued to dutifully protect the joey until a wildlife rescuer arrived and took the joey into home so it could receive treatment.
Sue Kirwan from Help for Wildlife, told Yahoo News Australia the joey is now doing well in care.
“There’s so much gloom and doom, and its rescue was a nice change,” she said.
After posting the joey’s story to social media, some people criticised the intervention of rescue groups, saying they interrupted a natural event.
“Shouldn’t be interfering with the native cycle of life,” one person wrote.
“Eagles eat prey, we shouldn't deny them their food,” another commented.
Others said Panda deserved to be praised for her efforts protecting the joey.
“What a hero the dog is, awesome job,” someone wrote.
“Bravery medal for the Blue Heeler. And lots of treats,” another person added.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.