The Australian Reptile Park has come to the rescue and aid of perhaps the wildlife park’s cutest resident.
After a routine health check of their nine yellow-footed rock-wallabies, the Mammals team noticed that Kelly, one of the females, was pawing at her pouch. Knowing that she was carrying a beautiful young female joey, the team were quick to undergo a check of Kelly’s pouch to see whether the joey, and Kelly herself, were in good health.

Upon the initial check, the team could see that Kelly’s pouch had prolapsed, meaning that she could no longer carry her little joey. Luckily, the team was able to act fast, removing the joey from the pouch, to ensure she would survive. The new little bundle of joy was placed in a soft, knitted pouch to mimic the warmth, softness, and security of her mum’s.

After the joey was safely in a warm pouch, the Keepers assessed her age by weighing and measuring her, ensuring that she received the right amount of milk to promote healthy growth. To their relief, the little wallaby weighed 500 grams, indicating good health despite the challenges posed by mum’s prolapsed pouch. During the assessment, they also discovered that the joey’s tail was almost twice the length of her body, another great indication of healthy progress.

Australian Reptile Park’s Life Sciences Manager, Hayley Shute, said “It comes down to both luck and passion that our staff were able to see something was off with Mum and rescue this little joey. We’re very lucky to have some of the best zookeepers in the business here! Sadly, Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate on the planet, so the joeys are especially important in preserving this incredible species!”

Ms Shute continued, “Once the joey was rescued, the team gave her mum a thorough health-check to see if there were any other health issues that may have contributed to her pouch issues. We’re happy to report that despite not being able to carry her baby, she is in great health and will remain with the rest of the mob at the Park.”

As for the newest little resident, Ms Shute explained that, “for the next 6 months, the joey will get ‘round the clock care’ from Keepers here at the Australian Reptile Park. Once she’s big and strong enough, she’ll be reunited with mum and the rest of the wallabies.”

The orphaned joey is a part of the Australian Reptile Park’s vital conservation breeding project to help save the threatened species. Yellow-footed rock-wallabies were once found throughout New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. However, they have now disappeared from New South Wales and Queensland with their numbers in the wild estimated at being as little as 5,000. Their decline is attributed to intense hunting in the 1800s and early 1900s for their pelts and in recent times, the introduction of feral pests such at the fox and cat.