JOANNE LEE IS AN ANIMAL ADVOCATE WHO OPERATES A MICRO SANCTUARY IN THE DANDENONG RANGES, ABOUT AN HOUR OUT OF MELBOURNE. THERE SHE HAS PROVIDED A LIFE OF SAFETY, FUN + FRIENDSHIP FOR HER RESIDENTS, INCLUDING TWO RESCUE DOGS + A NOTABLE FLOCK OF SHEEP KNOWN AS THE WEETBIX GANG.
SB: WHAT KIND OF ANIMALS DO YOU RESCUE + WHY DO THEY NEED RESCUING?
Our micro sanctuary residents consist of 7 sheep, known as The Weetbix Gang + 2 dogs. All of them - including our dog residents are rescues + they each have their own stories of survival to share.
Diesel the bulldog was rescued from neglect 11 years ago. He was born into the “pet” industry + once the novelty of him wore off he was left in a baron backyard.
Tess the greyhound was rescued from the greyhound racing industry. At just 3 years old she was sent to the vet to be destroyed as she wasn’t fast enough for the track. A greyhound rescue group stepped in + after a period of rehabilitation she joined us. The greyhound racing industry is horrific on a multitude of levels. While many greyhounds are destroyed after their career ends, some end up in testing facilities – a fact that many people are unaware of.
Our mission is to provide sanctuary to animals in need + to touch human hearts through positive education. By sharing the Gang’s stories + allowing people to follow their journey from rescue to recovery + beyond we hope to create a kinder, more compassionate world for all.
We strive to set an example of what life should be like; a safe + comfortable place, full of fun + enrichment, where the very best care is provided to ensure individuals thrive + live the best quality of life possible.
SB: HOW DID THE WEETBIX GANG COME TO BE?
The Weetbix Gang was established in November 2018 by Alice + Zoe, the first to arrive at our sanctuary. Alice + Zoe were in the care of a fellow sanctuary who at the time, wasn’t set up for sheep. Within 6 months the Gang had tripled + in the proceeding months we welcomed Zack, Bambi + her babies Marty + Willow.
The Weetbix Gang have come from a variety of situations. Zoe’s story is quite remarkable. During a protest at a slaughterhouse following the release of leaked CCTV footage from the facility, she was plucked from the kill line + released to sanctuary. Her story is bitter-sweet as we are so thankful she is safe, but heartbroken for the hundreds of others left behind + countless others who continue to face the same fate today. Many people have followed Zoe’s journey; she’s been an amazing advocate for the liberation of nonhumans, especially her fellow sheep.
Zack was on of the few lucky orphaned lambs rescued during Winter Lambing, where every winter in Australia an almost unbelievable 10 - 15 million lambs die within the first 48 hours of life due to exposure to the harsh winter weather. Zack’s mother had passed away while giving birth + thankfully he was found before perishing in the cold.
Samson was bred for his hair + was a runaway sheep. He was found down, vulnerable + being pecked at by crows.
Both Jade + Bambi were also rescued last winter, struck down with a condition called “pregnancy toxaemia”. Essentially they were both pregnant + chronically starved. Jade was down for several days before being found – her baby was found close to her + sadly he had died. It’s a miracle that Jade survived. Bambi gave birth to 2 healthy babies, Marty + Willow, who reside here with her.
Being a smaller sanctuary, people are able to get to know each of the Gang intimately. We are able to show people just how wonderfully unique sheep are; very far from the narrative that humans have created about them.
Our followers have their favourites + we share both the good times + the bad times as they unfold. Weetbix HQ is a very special place to not only just those who reside here.
SB: THE WEETBIX GANG IS A VERY CUTE NAME, WHAT INSPIRED IT?
They all love Weetbix... a lot! If you don't believe me, check out this video.
SB: WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT SHEEP IN PARTICULAR?
Sheep are deeply emotional. They are unique + complex, they think + they feel. They have friends, they form close bonds, they can be strong, funny, fiercely loyal, cheeky + determined; no two sheep will ever be the same.
Perhaps we tell ourselves that they are all the same; that they can’t comprehend or understand, so that we feel less guilty about using their bodies for our own gain.
Whatever the case, anyone who has truly spent quality time with sheep will know just how wonderfully unique they are.
SB: HOW CAN PEOPLE SUPPORT THE WEETBIX GANG?
The most important way to support The Weetbix Gang is by sharing our content. This helps people connect with + learn more about sheep in an educational + fun way. Education is critical in creating a just world for nonhumans.
If you are in a position to support financially; there are a few different ways:
- You can sign up on Patreon for $1 a month. The support that we receive goes directly to the Gang by way of food, medical supplies, vet costs + to the improvement of our facilities. Currently our Patrons help us cover half of our monthly running costs.
- For people who want to send a one-off donation to the Gang, we have PayPal and Bank Deposit options available.
- We're currently raising money to buy a new float for The Gang. As they keep growing in numbers they can't fit in our current 6x4 anymore + it's important they have one as warmer weather approaches as we're located in an Extreme Bushfire Risk zone. People can donate by buying tickets to our raffle or by contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.