Watch out for wildlife these school holidays

Watch out for wildlife these school holidays

#Animals, #Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo

Posted on 22nd April 2024 by Media Relations

A keeper working with Australian native animals at Taronga Western Plains Zoo is urging the public to continue to watch out for wildlife on the roads.

Lou Todd has spent the past five months hand-raising a Red Kangaroo joey who was rescued from his mother’s pouch on the side of the road near Cobar in November 2023.

Sadly, his mother had been hit by a car and killed, but the joey, nicknamed Copper after the town near where he was found, was able to be rescued from her pouch and brought to the Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital.

He weighed just 1.6 kilograms on arrival, and with fur like velvet, Copper would have still been completely reliant on his mother’s pouch and milk.

Red Kangaroo joey, Copper
Red Kangaroo joey, Copper

Enter Keeper Lou, and a pillowcase.

For the next few months, Lou would hand-feed Copper four times a day, 5am, 11am, 5pm and 11pm, teaching him to lap a special milk formula.

When he wasn’t curled up snugly in his pillowcase ‘pouch’, he would be exploring Lou’s backyard, finding his legs and getting a taste for grass.

While she worked, he would stay under the watchful eyes of the veterinary team at the Wildlife Hospital, alongside another young rescued Red Kangaroo, Matilda.

Gradually Copper grew bigger and stronger, and his feeds decreased to three times a day, then two, and then eventually one.

He “loves his solids”, including grass, sweet potato, kangaroo pellets, and browse like saltbush, lilly pilly and grevillea.

But he’s “not a fan of carrots”, Lou says.

Copper and Matilda have both now graduated to a holding yard behind the scenes at the Zoo. Here they will socialise and learn to be kangaroos together until Copper is strong enough to be returned to the wild, back near Cobar, with the help of a local carer.

Lou says hand-raising Copper has been “one of the most difficult but rewarding experiences ever”.

“Having to juggle that with working full-time has definitely meant I have no social life anymore!” she laughed.

“But getting to watch him grow and hit all of his milestones and discover the world has been extremely rewarding for me as a native animal zoo keeper.”

With families across NSW hitting the roads these school holidays, Copper’s case is a timely reminder of the importance of looking out for wildlife.

"Take care on the roads, especially at dawn and dusk because that’s when a lot of our native Australia wildlife is out and about grazing,” Lou said.

“If you do see any wildlife, or accidentally hit some wildlife in your travels, always check on the animal and its pouch, if it is safe to do so, and contact your local wildlife carer organisation for assistance."

Red Roo Joey Copper in a behind-the-scenes yard at the Zoo
Red Roo Joey Copper in a behind-the-scenes yard at the Zoo
Keeper Lou Todd with Red Kangaroo Joey Copper and another Joey behind the scenes at the Zoo
Keeper Lou Todd with Red Kangaroo Joey Copper and another Joey behind the scenes at the Zoo