Laura Rennie, Keeper
next time you wander down to the Monkey House, take a moment and
see if you can spot the Capuchins new neighbour,in the paddock next
Ollie the baby Red-Necked Wallaby made his public debut in
the middle of February 2000, and despite a shy start is frequently
popping his head out of mums pouch.
can spot the female of the group quite easily - she has a very saggy
underbelly ( That's Ollie! ) and a bit of a swollen nose,
which is just a mild infection caused by routine Wallaby scrapping.
At first, only MoiraBaird (a senior keeper) and I were lucky enough
to spot him (or her!) as usually, he'd only appear first thing in
the morning, his tiny little bald pink head peering out of the warm
cosy pouch. With the weather we've had can understand his reluctance
to show face!
March 2000, at an estimated 4 - 5 months old, he has the trademark
grey fur appearing and is confident enough to hang his two front
paws out of the pouch. We can expect to see his first hilariously
unco-oridinated attempt of a hop sometime in late April / early
birth, a new born wallaby is blind, bald, smaller than a bumblebee
and weighs less than 1 gram. The first task it has after being born
is to crawl from the birth canal to the safety of the pouch, where
it will attach itself to a teat and remain inside for up to nine
wallabies like Ollie will begin to venture out of the pouch
completely at around six months of age.
They begin to grow more independent over the months that follow,
although they can return to the pouch for comfort or safety up to
the age of eighteen months after which, they are literally kicked
out, as the mother can no longer physically carry them. They are
usually weaned at around one year old.
is very exciting working with baby animals and each day brings development
and change, and the appearance of Ollie helped to cheer us
up after the sad Valentine's day we had when Blue, our oldest Red-Necked
Wallaby died. Blue was in his mid - twenties perhaps even pushing
thirty when he died which is an exceptional age for a wallaby whose
lifespan in the wild is 12 -14 years. Let's hope Ollie has the same
good life ahead!