World-first surrogacy between a wallaby and a kangaroo occurred after the tree kangaroo’s mother was killed by a falling branch
Australian Associated Press
Tuesday 30 June 2015 02.35 BST
An orphaned tree kangaroo has been raised by a surrogate wallaby mother at Adelaide zoo, in what vets say is a world first.
The orphaned tree kangaroo was named
Makaia and lived with its surrogate
mother for about three months.
Photograph: Adelaide Zoo
The cross–species surrogacy between a wallaby and a kangaroo has never been attempted before but was forced on the zoo when the the tree kangaroo’s mother was killed by a falling branch.
“We had no idea if the yellow-footed rock-wallaby would accept the tree kangaroo joey, but if we wanted to save the joey we had to try our luck,” veterinarian David McLelland said.
The tree kangaroo was orphaned in November and was too young to be reared by hand.
The zoo had previously reared wallabies using surrogate mothers from other wallaby species, but had never used the technique to have a wallaby mother raise a joey tree kangaroo.
The cross-foster procedure, to get the tree kangaroo joey to latch on to the new teat, ran smoothly and tiny ripples of movement over the next few days confirmed the joey was alive and thriving.