SPRING is in the air for baby Newt, a wallaby who was found abandoned and has been hand-reared in a rucksack at the Longleat Safari Park.
Little Newt, who is around 30 weeks old, is cared for by keepers Gemma Short and Jodie Cobb, who take it in turns to carry him around in a substitute pouch made from a rucksack.
The red-necked wallaby was rescued from certain death after being found abandoned during the snowy weather. Gemma says: “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.
“We kept him under close 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. He’s a real character and is beginning to venture out on his own again and explore the outside world.”
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.
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.