Leaping into action

DZC staff leapt into action after a female Bennett’s wallaby died while nursing a young joey in her pouch.

Senior Keeper Laura Robbins has now stepped in as surrogate mum to provide round-the-clock care for the four-month-old male, who’s been named Barney.

Laura, said: “Barney was fully furred but was very tiny.

“We’ve never hand reared a wallaby before, but we’ve had lots of helpful advice from Longleat Safari Park and he’s gaining weight really well, so we’re very pleased.”

Barney is currently receiving four daily feeds of high fat puppy replacement milk and is spending his days on-site in the zoo offices, while the rest of the time is spent with Laura and her young family at their home.

Mum-of-three, Laura: “My children think he’s wonderful!

“He’s developing quite a personality and is so lovely. I think as a mum you have an instinct to mother anything and he is like my fourth child!

“At this age he would still be spending lots of time in his mum’s pouch, so we’re trying to replicate that behaviour as much as possible with a rucksack, which we hang up and he hops in and out of.”

Barney will spend the next four months with Laura but we hope he’ll be able to return to Wallaby Walkthrough with the rest of the mob in the near future.

In preparation, Laura will not only begin weaning him onto solid foods, such as browse, hay and dandelions, but will also start integrating him with the other wallabies on site and will spend time sitting with him in the enclosure so he can start observing their behaviours before he moves back in full time.

DZC Curator Richard Brown said: “Without urgent intervention from our keeping team, we would have lost Barney alongside his mum.

“Thanks to Laura’s dedication he’s making terrific progress and it’s wonderful to have such a happy outcome from a sad loss.”