At work on Friday I was provided with a fantastic opportunity to witness a very extraordinary and spectactular event, which was called cross fostering, involving Rock Wallabys.
In the wild there are around 40 Brush Tailed Rock Wallabys left, and so this operation will hopefully help to revive the population numbers.
This is done through cross fostering, and I will attempt to outline a summary of what this means. Once the Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby has a joey in it’s pouch, the vet extracts it to place in the care of it’s new foster mum, a Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby (notice that they are both breeds of Rock Wallaby so hopefully will result in a successful operation). In order to do this the Yellow Footed must also have a young joey present (same size , weight etc as the Brush Tailed joey) so that milk is being generated for the new joey. Under anaesthetic, the joeys are then exchanged so that the Yellow Footed will now just take care of the Brush Tailed joey. Now the Brush Tailed mother has an empty pouch and still in motherhood mode, she will be placed back into the reserve in order to conceive again, so that more Brush Taileds can be generated – fantastic!
Not so fantastic, and I found very sad, is the fact that the Yellow Footed joey had to be euthanised. Unfortunately I could not Edd Cross Foster this one!
I felt very privileged to see such a momentus occassion for the Brush Tails, and it was incredible to see the young joey(s), which just fit inside the vet’s hands – they were so helpless and dependant and very cute.
Here is the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby on the operating table.
Here the very small Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby joey is being placed into the pouch of the Yellow Footed foster mother, and with tweezers the vet is guiding the mother’s teat towards the joey.