Peggy McDonald OAM was born with a love of animals and along with her late father began caring for, and releasing, injured native reptiles. In the early 1990s her love of birds and understanding of their rehabilitation requirements began to unfold.
NPWS seized a Gang-gang cockatoo and handed him over to her for care. This bird taught her how remarkable, intelligent and what very special creatures birds are.
In 1992 Peg was introduced to the world of raptors by the late Jerry Olsen, and so began 30 years of dedication to learn and share more knowledge about these magnificent apex predators, the athletes of the sky.
Peggy’s working life began at The University of Sydney in the veterinary faculty as a medical technologist. She travelled away with Australian Volunteers Abroad, working in a laboratory in Borneo and including a stint with the orangutans in Sandakan.
A combined love of cricket and history saw her employed at the Bradman Museum of Cricket and the SCG as assistant museum curator. She continued her wildlife rehabilitation work and founded the Wingecarribee WIRES branch which is still going to this day.
In 2012 she completed the first of an eventual five internships at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
During that initial placement she learnt there were gold star standards in rehabilitation that we could and should be attaining, and her driving spark and passion to witness Australia move towards the forefront of exceptional world standards had been lit.
Together with builder and friend Ross Robinson, the support of friends and the NSW Southern Highlands community she went on to voluntarily found, create and manage the Higher Ground Raptor Rehabilitation Centre - the home of the largest free flight aviary complexes of their type in the Southern Hemisphere.
Peggy was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to raptor rehabilitation centres of excellence worldwide in 2018. Her subject was ‘To Advance and exchange our knowledge of Australian raptor rehabilitation and release techniques”’
The Churchill journey and her subsequent report have proven invaluable in the push for better practice for both birds of prey and their rehabilitators alike.
She received an OAM in 2021 for “Services to Conservation and the Environment”.
Peggy has chosen Wildlife Recovery Australia to become the new custodians of the centre, and is looking forward to working with a wonderful, caring and passionate team in which she has great confidence.
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