An accident with potentially grave consequences was averted at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan yesterday when a joey fell out of its mother’s pouch too early.
Thanks to quick thinking and a dose of ingenuity by the Israeli veterinarians, the kangaroo is safe and snug.
Knowing that the four-month-old joey was still meant to be in gestation in her mother’s pouch, Ramat Gan Safari staff became concerned when they found the not-yet-named baby kangaroo on the ground of her pen.
The joey was rushed to the on-site animal hospital, put in a warm incubator and given an IV with sugar water.
Almost everyone knows that female kangaroos carry their young in a pouch. But if a joey leaves the pouch too soon, it could be a life-threatening situation.
Joeys can be as small as a grain of rice when born after a 21- to 38-day pregnancy, according to the San Diego Zoo. After the joey is born, it stays in the mother’s pouch and gestates there for another 120 to 450 days.
It’s still a mystery why the joey at the Safari detached from its mother, seven-year-old Elia, who arrived at the Safari a few months ago from the Gan-Garoo Australian park in northern Israel.
Fortunately, it was a hop, skip and jump to a solution. Zoo veterinarians sedated Elia and returned her baby to its pouch. After making sure the joey was nursing properly, the vets used a piece of sticky tape to keep her on mom’s nipple. They will monitor the situation to decide when it’s safe to remove the tape. The joey is expected to hop to independence in another two months.
This wasn’t the first time Safari staff has had to think out of the box.
The zoo successfully saved a white rhino’s vision with a custom-made mask, used a groundbreaking medical device to save the life of a Caspian turtle; and nursed a Sumatran tiger back to health with a novel foam drug-delivery platform.