Baby wallaby to be seen on walkabouts at local zoo soon

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Sunset Zoo is welcoming a new addition to the Austrailia Walkabout Trail family. Nestled alongside the emu exhibit and Australian Aviary, the wallaby family has welcomed a baby joey. Born six months ago, the joey wallaby is slowly becoming a natural part of the zoo.

Wallabies look like small kangaroos and, like kangaroos, are marsupials. The joey has been developing in its mother’s pouch since birth, but has recently been poking its head out, and should be making its full debut soon. Because the joey is still living inside the mother’s pouch, the gender of the youngster remains unknown at this time.

“We’re waiting until we know the gender of the joey before we name it,” said Ella Casey, marketing and development officer. “Last February, when we had a baby chimp, we held a name contest that was open to the public and we’re thinking about doing that again [for the joey].”

The joey and its parents, Mirrhi and Burnam, are Bennett’s Wallabies, native to southeastern Australia and Tasmania. This is not the pair’s first offspring. This particular wallaby pair has had two other male joeys in past years, one of which was transported to another zoo. There are currently five adult wallabies living along the Austrailian Walkabout Trail, in addition to the new joey.

“They [the adult wallabies] don’t really seem to react to any changes in their group dynamics. I think welcoming the joey will be business as usual. I’m not sure that they really mind,” said Courtani Pineau-Gaynor, Sunset Zoo animal keeper.

The wallaby family normally puts on an easygoing show for zoogoers, she said.

“On a typical day, they’re just going to be lounging about,” Pineau-Gaynor said. “They’re most active in the morning and in the evening. If it’s hot, they’ll then spend most of their day laying around in the sun. They’re pretty calm for the most part.”

The Australian Walkabout trail is known to attract more visitors than other exhibits because visitors can walk directly through the animals’ living space, which is not fenced off from the zoo patrons.

One visitor, Andrew, visited the zoo on Tuesday with his young daughter Penny.

“She normally thinks the wallabies are dogs,” Andrew said, to which Penny replied, “Woof woof!”

It is almost time for the joey to reach the point of full maturity, in which it can do normal activities independently from its mother. Zookeeping staff and patrons have been able to get glimpses of the joey recently.

“He’s out on a regular basis now,” Pineau-Gaynor said. “I spent weeks watching her pouch move and roll, waiting for that first peek of the baby’s head. But, the joey does spend a good amount of time with at least his head out of the pouch. He’s using his hands to grab leaves and grass, and kind of starting to explore things.”

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