A baby wallaby is being hand reared in a rucksack after being found abandoned by his mother at Longleat in Wiltshire.
The baby, who has been nicknamed Newt is thought to be around 30 weeks old. He has been adopted by keepers Gemma Short and Jodie Cobb, who take it in turns to carry his around in a substitute pouch made from a rucksack.
The red-necked wallaby, who was rescued from certain death after being found abandoned during the snowy weather, is thriving and appears particularly enthusiastic enjoying the long-delayed spring weather.
“It appears that for some reason his mum let him out of her pouch during the cold weather but then refused to let him back in again,” said keeper Gemma.
At birth he weighed just 20 grams and was little larger than a baked bean. He would have had to crawl through his mother’s fur from the birth canal into the pouch where he began to suckle.
Volunteering to take over as surrogate mums has been a real labour of love for the keepers - especially with feeds every four hours day and night.
What’s more Gemma and Jodie will have to keep up their role as adopted parents for up to 18 months until the youngster is fully weaned and ready to return to the wallaby colony.
Originally from Tasmania and Eastern Australia, the red necked wallaby is a hardy species and very capable of surviving in the harsh British weather conditions. There are a number of small groups living wild in Derbyshire and Sussex which originated from animals which escaped from zoos in the 1930s.