The veterinary care staff at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is successfully hand-raising a Parma wallaby joey whose mother wasn't able to care for him. The joey -- now 8 months old and in good health -- is developing at a steady pace, weighing just two pounds and standing less than 10 inches tall.
Veterinary Technicians at the Zoo's Center for Zoological Medicine became foster parents to the young wallaby, appropriately named "Foster," in October. As part of his care, the joey stays in a specially heated hospital room, receives food imported from Australia and has access to a warm, furry papoose that serves as an artificial pouch.
"We typically prefer that our animals be raised naturally by their own parents, but in this case the joey wouldn't have survived if we didn't intervene," said Geoff Hall, the Zoo's General Curator. "This little wallaby is getting bigger and stronger everyday, and we're very optimistic that he will continue to thrive here at the Zoo."
Foster remains in a special-care unit at the Zoo's hospital and is not yet on public display, but photos and video of him are online now at clemetzoo.com.
When he's a little bigger -- hopefully soon after the start of the new year -- Foster's care will be turned over to the Zoo's Conservation Education staff, which will prepare him to play an important role in the Zoo's educational wild animal shows.
Once thought to be extinct, Parma wallabies are native to the rainforests and dry forests of Australia and remain endangered. Parma wallabies are among the smallest of the marsupials -- typically growing to no more than 12 pounds, which is about a tenth the weight of a red kangaroo.
Celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2007, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Winter admission is $7 per person ages 12 and older, $5 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children under 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 77, 90 and 480.