Pip the Bennett’s Wallaby joey has had an unusual childhood to say the least – he's grown up in a reusable yellow shopping bag, and instead of his mom, he has a team of human caregivers at Singapore's Night Safari who take turns to shower him with love.
Keepers discovered the still-pink wallaby joey abandoned in the Wallaby Trail exhibit on May 31 when he was about two months old, and immediately rescued him. An attempt was made to reunite mother and young but this proved unsuccessful and a decision was made to hand-raise the joey, which has since been named Pip.
Only 5.64 oz (160 g) when he was found, the most pressing concern was to find a suitable space for Pip to continue his development in the same way he would in his mother’s pouch. In the early stages of a joey’s life, it spends all its time in its mother’s pouch before venturing out at about seven months. The keepers’ creative solution was to repurpose a recyclable shopping bag into a surrogate pouch. The recyclable bag was lined with a towel that had been sewn to resemble a pouch he could snuggle into. As Pip grew, the inner cloth was replaced to accommodate his size. The makeshift pouch turned out to be an excellent substitute as it provided the body warmth and shelter similar to a wallaby mother's pouch.
See photos and learn more after the fold!
After four months of intense and tender loving care from his keepers, Pip has grown by leaps and bounds to his current 1.17 lbs (530 g), and is now approximately six months old. He is fed every five hours with a special formula for macropods, and has started nibbling on leaves. A typical day also includes some time away from his yellow haven, when he exercises his muscles and goes for his daily weight checks. To monitor his health and development, his caregiver totes him about in his recyclable yellow shopping bag, to the vets, for his twice-weekly general health checks.
Keepers will care for Pip until he becomes more independent and has graduated to solids completely, within a year’s time. Once this happens, he will slowly be reintroduced to the mob of wallabies at Night Safari’s Wallaby Trail. For now, the recyclable yellow shopping bag is never far from the young wallaby, providing warmth and security approximately 20 hours a day.
Keepers say that once the reusable shopping bag has completed its tour of duty as a surrogate pouch, it will resume its initial purpose of helping to save the earth from plastic trash pollution.