BY: JESSICA BEUKER
In what could only be one of the greatest and most rewarding jobs ever, Harry Kunz has spent the last 30 years working with animals and building a thriving wildlife oasis – Eagles Nest Wildlife Sanctuary. His two-hectare sanctuary and house sit on the picturesque Atherton Tablelands – a luscious mix of rainforest and savanna in the northern region of Australia, near Queensland. Now, Kunz is looking to give away his little piece of paradise to a kind, compassionate, animal-loving soul who promises to keep the sanctuary open and care for the animals that live there – about 1,200 of them.
According to The Guardian, Kunz has had quite a few offers so far, but none have stuck. While some people are only interested in the house, or assume that having a dog or cat will qualify them to care for birds of prey and marsupials, others have proposed turning the sanctuary into a zoo. “I want this continuing as a wildlife hospital because that’s what I’ve tried to do for almost 30 years now,” Kunz said to The Guardian. “I don’t want to lose what I created and built up, every shred, with all my money.”
When Kunz arrived in Sydney in the early ’80s he was shocked to find veterinarians euthanizing native birds that came in with only minor, treatable injuries. He decided to make it his mission to care for birds of prey, and pretty soon his mission expanded to include any species, no matter how small or common, in need of help. This includes everything from emus and koalas to reptiles, eagles and dingos. Each year more than 1,200 injured or orphaned animals are taken in by the sanctuary.
Many of the animals Kunz takes in are commonly hit by cars, attacked by domestic dogs or cats or become sick due to the use of pesticides and poisons. Hunting is also a big issue; Kunz expressed that his biggest success would be to sway visitors away from recreational hunting. “Ninety-eight percent of hunting is done because it’s ‘fun’,” Kunz told The Guardian. “There is no bigger, stupider predator than humans.”
Besides recreational hunting and the use of chemicals, humans are also responsible for habitat loss, mining, logging, agriculture and urban development – all which contribute to the danger these animals face. The sanctuary has a 78 percent survival rate, in which case they are returned to the wild to continue living normally. Animals that can’t successfully be returned to the wild live on in the sanctuary.
To apply for the position Kunz has asked that those interested get in contact with him via email, as the phone number listed on the website is a wildlife emergency hotline, and with an influx of phone calls, he could end up missing an emergency and an animal could die as a result. You can find more information here.
Kunz told The Guardian that the sanctuary would be best run by a small team of passionate animal lovers – like a couple or a family. Prospective successors will be invited to the sanctuary to train alongside him for as long as they need, before he decides on the best candidate. Kunz will teach the interested applicants everything they need to know from where to obtain free food from local farmers to maintaining the private, corporate and government grants that keep the sanctuary running.
If you have a passion for wildlife and the environment, then this paradise haven could be your dream job.