An orphaned wombat joey is receiving round-the-clock care at Taronga Zoo after its mother was struck by a car outside Sydney.
Taronga Keeper, Evelyn Weston, has taken on the role of surrogate mum to the six-month-old joey, carrying a makeshift pouch and stopping work for bottle feeds every five hours.
The female joey was rescued by a wildlife carer in June after its mother was struck and killed on a road near Jenolan Caves. Luckily the joey, named ‘Chloe’ by the carer, was found still alive inside the pouch.
Chloe was brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital last week for ongoing care and she’s been busy melting hearts among the Zoo’s keepers, who have been only too happy to help Evelyn with her mothering duties.
“My biggest problem is getting her back,” joked Evelyn. “She’s very affectionate and also a bit naughty. She loves chewing on shoes and if you walk away from her she chases after you like a rocket.”
For now Chloe’s diet is limited to a special milk mixture, but she’ll gradually be introduced to solid foods in a month.
“We did try to see if she’d nibble on a bit of grass, but she just thought it was something to lie on,” said Evelyn.
Chloe will remain in Evelyn’s care for at least another two months, before moving to a temporary new home at Taronga’s Australian Walkabout. Keepers hope Chloe will be strong enough to return to the wild in about 18 months.
Evelyn paid tribute to the great work of wildlife carers and said Chloe’s story should serve as a reminder to motorists to watch out for wildlife on the roads.
Taronga Wildlife Hospital cares for and treats over 1,000 injured or orphaned native animals every year, including wombats, wallabies, possums, echidnas, birds and sea turtles.