Parma Wallaby Baby at San Diego Zoo Survives Against Odds

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Parma Wallaby Baby at San Diego Zoo Survives Against Odds.

Photo taken October 3, 2011, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.

Zoo Nursery Asks For New Pouches for Hand-raising Marsupials

Oct 4, 2011

Phone: 619-685-3291 

A parma wallaby in the nursery at the San Diego Zoo is bottle fed by senior keeper Janet Hawes on Monday. This is one of four feedings the baby, called a joey, receives each day. Named Trinka, an aboriginal word for daytime, the tiny joey is also given time out of the pouch in a playpen in the nursery. And keepers have started giving her "sun time" in a vacant yard near the wallaby exhibit. These activities are a part of the joey's socialization and preparing her to rejoin the other wallabies at the Zoo.

The joey has been cared for by keepers and vets since she was found out of her mother's pouch on July 5, 2011. She was dirty, cold, bruised, but alert and veterinarians were able to clean her up and start caring for her immediately.

Trinka is the youngest and smallest marsupial the Zoo has been able to successfully raise. When she was found, she weighed only 51 grams, had no body hair and her ears were still "pinned" to her head. Wallabies like this joey are born the size of a kidney bean and are totally unformed. They finish growing inside the mother's pouch. In situations where marsupials are rejected by their mothers, keepers must simulate the pouch environment in order for the baby to survive.

Included on the Zoo's online wish list this month is a specially designed pouch to help with the development of marsupials like Trinka. These neonates must be kept in a warm, moist environment that is made possible with these artificial pouches designed in Australia. To donate, go to

Feeding wallaby joeys is also a challenge as they don't have a suckling response like other mammals. Because of her small size, Trinka required many frequent feedings. The little wallaby has shown remarkable strength. While she is normal in every way, she is very small. Keepers are encouraged by her determination and are starting to notice personality traits in her: sweet, gentle, but expressive. Parma wallabies are an endangered species found throughout Australia and New Guinea. Thought extinct before the turn of the 20th century, a surviving population of parma wallabies was found on Kawau Island near Auckland, New Zealand, in 1965. This discovery started a captive breeding program for the species. Another population was found in the forests of New South Wales, Australia.

The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as the Wild Animal Park), which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.







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