Dudley zookeeper becomes surrogate mother for baby wallaby after mum dies while still nursing him

Dudley Zoo

A baby wallaby at Dudley Zoo is 'doing well' after his mum died while she was still nursing the young joey in her pouch.

Senior Keeper Laura Robbins has had to step in as a surrogate mother to provide round-the-clock care for four-month-old Barney.

We’ve never hand-reared a wallaby before, but we’ve had lots of helpful advice from Longleat Safari Park and he’s gaining weight really well, so we’re very pleased.

He’s developing quite a personality and is so lovely. I think as a mum you have an instinct to mother anything and he is like my fourth child!

Laura Robbins, Senior Keeper and mum of three...now four

At his current age, he’d still be spending lots of time in his mum’s pouch, so zookeepers are trying to replicate that behaviour with a rucksack, which they hang up and he hops in and out of.

Credit: Dudley Zoo

Barney has four feeds a day and spends much of his day in the zoo's offices and at Laura’s home. 

He'll soon be weaned onto solid food like hay and dandelions.

Without urgent intervention from our keeping team, we would have lost Barney alongside his mum.

Thanks to Laura’s dedication he’s making terrific progress and it’s wonderful to have such a happy outcome from a sad loss.

Richard Brown, Dudley Zoo Curator

Read more: