An education coordinator at Taronga Zoo in Australia has taken on the role of surrogate dad to an orphaned Swamp Wallaby joey, whose mother was struck by a car near Sydney. About 6 months old, the joey has been named ‘Alkira’, which means ‘sunshine’.
Matt Dea has been hand-raising the female joey for the past two weeks, carrying a makeshift pouch and waking up at 2 am for one of five daily bottle feedings.
“Caring for such a young joey is very involved and she hasn’t left my side. She comes home with me, she comes to the shops and she sleeps beside my desk at work each day,” said Dea.
Photo credit: Taronga Zoo
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Alkira was brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital on September 15 after its mother was struck and killed by a car. Fortunately, a Taronga Zoo keeper spotted the wallaby beside the road on her way to work and discovered the joey still alive inside the pouch.
“She was a bit stunned, but otherwise healthy with no injuries from the car accident. We were really lucky,” said Dea.
For now the joey's diet is restricted to a special milk mixture and the occasional nibble of grass, but she’ll gradually be introduced to solid foods such as carrot and sweet potato.
Dea said Alkira’s story should serve as a reminder for motorists to watch out for wildlife on the roads.