San Diego Zoo Hand-Feeds Wallaby Back to Life
Native to forests in the New South Wales state of Australia, as well as New Zealand, the Parma Wallaby was thought to be extinct as late as the 19th century. It was only in 1965 when a small Parma Wallaby group was discovered almost a century later on Kawau Island by humans who were working to cut down an overflowing Tammer Wallaby population. The cull was postponed as the rediscovered species was captured and put into breeding programs in Australia and around the globe.
The San Diego Zoo has its own Parma Wallaby exhibit; recently, keepers at the Zoo took in a baby who was found outside of its mother’s pouch in July of this year. Like all marsupials, the Parma Wallaby give birth to young that are far too undeveloped for independence, and the resulting offspring will spend up to a year in and around the mother’s pouch for food, shelter and safety.
In this case, the baby appears to have fallen out of its pouch, and was discovered alive but cold and malnourished by Zoo keepers. Given the name Trinka, the wallaby was just 51 grams (1.8 ounces) when found but has since grown into a young adult. Still young, she requires hand feeding via four bottles a day, and has been given a specially-designed ‘pouch,’ as seen in the video above, to feel at home and for sleeping. This is the smallest and youngest marsupial the Zoo has successfully been able to hand raise.
The Parma Wallaby is the smallest of the wallabies, less than one tenth the size of the largest wallaby in its genus. Full grown, they’ll weigh about 7-12lbs, though Trinka will clearly be on the small side, according to Zoo officials. In the wild, the Parma Wallaby feeds on grasses and herbs, and are generally a private species. They are currently classified as “Near Threatened” in conservation status, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).