By Melissa Grant
There’s a true story about a dingo pup that fell out of the sky and into the backyard of a Victorian home.
Now that story is being shared in the form of a children’s book to raise awareness about purebred alpine dingoes, a species in need of protection.
Critically acclaimed author Favel Parrett wrote the book Wandi, named after the dingo that she’s come to know incredibly well.
Favel volunteers at the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary, where Wandi has lived since falling from the sky in August 2019.
Marks on Wandi’s back suggested he was picked up by a wedge-tail eagle or an owl and taken from his home in the mountains and dropped into a suburban backyard in Wandiligong, near Bright.
A woman found Wandi, who was just five weeks old at the time, crying in a garden and initially thought he was a dog or fox. However, DNA testing revealed he was in fact a purebred alpine dingo.
Wandi was taken to Dingo Discovery Sanctuary, where he was nursed back to health and paired with a female cub.
Wandi became an overnight sensation, with his incredible survival story making headlines around the world.
It’s a story Parrett wanted to tell in a children’s book. She longs for young readers to fall in love with alpine dingoes like she has.
Parrett met her first dingo a few years ago while visiting the sanctuary for a ‘cuddle a cub’ tour.
She thought she would be cuddling some cute cubs, but was instead blown away by what she discovered about the species.
She knew she was in the “presence of greatness” when she learned that they could hear human heartbeats from 25 metres away.
“They are hyper intelligent, their intelligence is beyond,” she said.
“Also, wherever their head can fit, they can fit. They can dislocate both of their shoulders and their hips.”
Parrett is at the sanctuary twice a week and has seen Wandi come leaps and bounds since meeting him as a four-month-old pup.
The wonder dingo recently became a dad to six cubs and has amassed more than 56,000 followers on Instagram.
Wandi’s journey to fatherhood is central to the book. According to Parrett, it’s a story of hope as it ends with the famous dingo having his own family. However he is missing his own parents and siblings and wishing they could all be free in the wild.
Unfortunately, Parrett says it’s impossible to “rewild” the sanctuary’s dingoes due to the threats they face. including being shot by hunters.
Parrett hopes her story can rewrite the role of alpine dingoes and teach children to be proud of the apex predator.
She believes Wandi’s fall from the sky has a purpose.
“Wandi has come here for a reason, we believe Wandi came to us at a time of great need,” she said.
“He’s our ambassador to show, let’s give dingoes a chance… and say, hey let’s be proud.”
Wandi is available at local bookstores. The book is also available at wandithedingo.com.au, with all proceeds from the book and merchandise going to the sanctuary.
You can also follow Wandi on Instagram at wandi_dingo