Num­bat adds to num­bers

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Aaron Cor­lett

THE Perth Zoo has wel­comed a small baby num­bat af­ter it was sep­a­rated from its mother in Mount Barker last week.

THE Perth Zoo has wel­comed a very small but im­por­tant critter.

A baby num­bat, that had been sep­a­rated from its mother, has come into the care of the zoo af­ter Project Num­bat pres­i­dent Ta­mara Wilkes-Jones picked it up near the Fran­k­land River in Mt Barker last Fri­day.

Frankie is the first wild num­bat that has come to the zoo for hand rear­ing and be­cause he only is only about six months old and weighs about 60g, he needs ex­tra help from the staff.

Perth Zoo na­tive species breed­ing pro­gram se­nior tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Dani Jose said Perth Zoo was the only place in the world that breeds num­bats in cap­tiv­ity.

“Hand rear­ing is pretty tricky, it takes a lot of ef­fort and care; we need to make sure the num­bats are be­ing looked af­ter in terms of not only food but also warmth be­cause usu­ally they would have been with their mother,” she said.

“We want to make sure he is able to put on a good amount of weight to de­velop like a nor­mal num­bat.

“With any an­i­mal that is or­phaned we want to make sure it can be happy and healthy and looked af­ter; with the num­bats it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant be­cause they are en­dan­gered at the mo­ment.”

Ms Jose said the zoo would look af­ter him but a dis­cus­sion would take place with the Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife later to de­ter­mine whether he stays at the zoo or is re­leased.

“At this stage, he will need quite in­ten­sive care for a few weeks while he is learn­ing to feed prop­erly and put on good amounts of weight; so once he is track­ing well, he should need less care,” she said.

“We won’t need to take him home for night feeds and we can start to in­tro­duce him to out­door en­clo­sures and nor­mal en­vi­ron­ments.”

Mrs Wilkes-Jones said she was work­ing in Perth when she had a call from a depart­ment em­ployee to pick up the num­bat.

“I de­cided to go down that night; I was plan­ning on watch­ing the footy and my team Gee­long,” she said.

“I’ve watched many num­bats in the wild but I had never han­dled one that small. I was ner­vous be­cause I’m not an ex­pe­ri­enced wildlife carer.

“He’s very lucky. The woman who did find him said she did watch him for a lit­tle while hop­ing that the mum would come back but af­ter a pe­riod of time she didn’t re­turn.”

Dani Jose is look­ing af­ter Frankie, the or­phaned num­bat.

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