Abandoned wallaby springs back into action at Longleat

Newt the baby wallaby being bottle fed at Longleat

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 5:46am 17th April 2018. (Updated at 2:27pm 17th April 2018)

Baby wallaby, who is being hand-reared in a rucksack after being found abandoned, is delighting keepers at the Wiltshire park with his progress.

A baby wallaby, which is being hand reared in a rucksack, is delighting keepers with his progress at Wiltshire's Longleat Safari Park.

'Newt' as he's been nicknamed, is thought to be around 30 weeks old.

The red-necked wallaby, was rescued from certain death after being found abandoned during the snowy weather, but is now thriving and appears particularly enthusiastic enjoying the long-delayed spring weather.

He's been adopted by keepers Gemma Short and Jodie Cobb, who take it in turns to carry his around in a substitute pouch made from a rucksack.

Longleat keeper Gemma Short bottle-feeding Newt the baby wallaby as she cradles him in her arms
Longleat keeper Gemma Short bottle-feeding Newt the baby wallaby



Keeper Gemma Short told Spire FM News about Newt's story:

"It appears that for some reason his mum let him out of her pouch during the cold weather but then refused to let him back in again."

"We kept him under closer observation but when it became clear she had abandoned in we had to step in and hand rear him. Initially we had to feed him every two hours but now he feeds at four-hourly intervals and he's starting to take solids."

"At first it felt a little strange to be carrying this rucksack around but after a while you do get used to it. He's a real character and is beginning to venture out on his own again and explore the outside world."


At birth he weighed just 20 grams and was little larger than a baked bean. He would have had to crawl through his mother's fur from the birth canal into the pouch where he began to suckle.

Longleat keeper Gemma Short with Newt enjoying the spring weather
Longleat keeper Gemma Short with Newt enjoying the spring weather



Volunteering to take over as surrogate mums has been a real labour of love for the keepers - especially with feeds every four hours day and night.

What's more Gemma and Jodie will have to keep up their role as adopted parents for up to 18 months until the youngster is fully weaned and ready to return to the wallaby colony.


  • Originally from Tasmania & Eastern Australia, the red necked wallaby is a hardy species
  • It is very capable of surviving in the harsh British weather conditions
  • There are a number of small groups living wild in Derbyshire and Sussex which originated from animals which escaped from zoos in the 1930's
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