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Ollie Peeks Out!

by Laura Rennie, Keeper

The 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 door.
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.

You 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!

In 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 May.

At 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 months.

Young 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.

It 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!