Munich: The work of animal rescue and sanctuary – Munich

To put it bluntly, Sabine Gallenberger’s house is full: the woman from Munich runs a sanctuary for wild animals. Furry, cute animals cavort here: Young hares sit in an enclosure, squirrels happily climb around in a cage and numerous dormouse slumber in cuddly fabric nests in several animal boxes. In the garden there is a large aviary in which squirrels also romp about.

For reasons of space, Sabine Gallenberger has housed a special family of animals with her mother Heidi. In a cage there, a mother dormouse has crept into a nest with her eight young. While the little ones lay down to rest wrapped in their long tails, the mother animal keeps a close eye on the people. If someone came too close to their little ones, they would attack, says Sabine Gallenberger.

Sabine Gallenberger from the Wild Animal Orphan Protection Association provides the offspring with milk from a syringe.

(Photo: Michael Faulhaber/dpa)

The dormouse appeared in a family’s bathroom closet in Munich in July. The mother had chosen a drawer as her nest and made herself and her young comfortable between washcloths. The residents had heard a beep from the closet, but didn’t dare open the drawer, reports Nikola Snjaric, full-time equipment manager at the Unterschleißheim fire brigade. With colleagues, he picked up the animals and rags there.

In a box, he brought them first to the fire station and then to the Gallenberger Wild Animal Orphan Protection Association. Not an everyday use, as Snjaric says. They often had to deal with swans, hedgehogs, cats, geese and birds. Now and then a reptile has to be caught. Animal rescues are usually pleasant missions – as long as you don’t come to the last breath of a cat that has been hit.

Wild animals in Munich: fire brigade equipment manager Nikola Snjaric picked up the animals from the family.

Fire brigade technician Nikola Snjaric picked up the animals from the family.

(Photo: Michael Faulhaber/dpa)

Sabine and Heidi Gallenberger have seen a lot of animal misery. Squirrels that have fallen from houses and balconies in particular are sometimes seriously injured. The second chairman of the association is a veterinarian and can treat the severe cases. Broken bones, for example, would be splinted. But Sabine Gallenberger has also acquired a great deal of specialist knowledge over the years. So much that she gives training, for example for external nursing homes.

The 41-year-old and her mother are busy feeding. Mom is taking care of some squirrels in her apartment. One of the little ones clutches the syringe from which it drinks milk with its little paws. It spilled all over its muzzle. 16 years ago she started nursing a squirrel, says Heidi Gallenberger, 68. Since then she has not let go of the fate of wild animals. She has compassion, and there are far too few places where injured wild animals are cared for anyway. Unfortunately, the state and city do not see themselves as responsible, she criticizes. And that, although many of the animals are protected.

In the meantime, Sabine Gallenberger has cut fruit into small pieces in her kitchen. Fruit is the favorite food of the larger dormouse. When she puts strawberries, pieces of apple and blueberries in a cage, five dormouse slip out of their nest and pounce on the sweet treats. While they are nibbling, Sabine Gallenberger feeds the dormouse babies. The little ones stretch in her hand, let her tummy be scratched and greedily swallow milk from a syringe.

The 41-year-old is particularly pleased that the animal family survived from the bathroom cabinet. She is scheduled to be released this fall. Gallenberger is looking for a suitable place for this. An orchard on the edge of a forest would be ideal, complete with a barn or wooden shack, in which the animals could hide food supplies and overwinter frost-free. It would also be good if someone could check on the animals from time to time in the early days and bring them some food.

Wild animals in Munich: The animal family is to be released this fall.

The animal family is scheduled to be released this fall.

(Photo: Michael Faulhaber/dpa)

This summer, more than 80 dormouse were given to her. In August and September, the females give birth and then usually make a little more noise than usual. When they have nested in houses or basements, they are usually noticed by the residents, who catch and release them. This is often just as much a death sentence for the young as it is for the mother animal. The young are no longer cared for and the adult animal cannot find its way in a strange place and is also looking for its young.

Taking care of the animals is almost a 24/7 job for Sabine Gallenberger. The association relies on donations for medicine and food. Sometimes they also get money from sponsors. She takes care of the animals on a voluntary basis and says: “We have always loved animals in our family.”

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