Abandoned wallaby doing well thanks to rucksack ‘pouch’

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A baby wallaby is being hand reared in a rucksack after being abandoned by his mother.

The red-necked wallaby, nicknamed Newt, was rescued after being let out of his mother’s pouch during snowy weather at Longleat in Wiltshire.

Keepers Gemma Short and Jodie Cobb have adopted the baby, thought to be 30 weeks old, and carry him round in a substitute pouch made from a rucksack.

Newt the abandoned wallaby drinks milk in the sunshine at Longleat in Wiltshire (Ian Turner/PA)
The abandoned wallaby drinks milk in the sunshine at Longleat (Ian Turner/PA)

“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,” Ms Short said.

“We kept him under closer observation but when it became clear she had abandoned him we had to step in and hand rear him.

“Initially we had to feed him every two hours but now he feeds at four-hourly intervals and he’s starting to take solids.

“At first it felt a little strange to be carrying this rucksack around but after a while you do get used to it. He’s a real character and is beginning to venture out on his own again and explore the outside world.”

Keeper Gemma Short with Newt the wallaby at Longleat (Ian Turner/PA)
Keeper Gemma Short with Newt the wallaby (Ian Turner/PA)

Newt weighed just 20 grams at birth and was little larger than a baked bean.

Ms Short and Ms Cobb will have to continue their role as adoptive parents for up to 18 months until the wallaby is fully weaned and able to return to his colony.

The red-necked wallaby, native to Tasmania and Eastern Australia, is a hardy species and capable of surviving British weather conditions.

There are a small number of groups living wild in Derbyshire and Sussex, which originated from animals that escaped from zoos in the 1930s, Longleat said.

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