Three Hand-raised Wallaby Joeys Are Hopping Out on Their Own

At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this morning, three female red-necked wallaby joeys were on the move—excitedly zipping around their new home at the Safari Park’s newest exhibit, Walkabout Australia. The almost 11-month-old trio—Laura, Thelma and Tatum—have finally settled into their grassy habitat at Walkabout Australia after weeks of commuting back and forth from their previous home at the Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center, as staff slowly introduced them to the habitat and the animals that already reside there. Animal care staff said the young wallabies, which were hand raised, are now doing well in their new home. They are fitting in well with the adult kangaroos and wallabies that share their habitat, and the joeys are displaying natural behaviors and individual personalities.

“Laura, the largest of the three, tends to be the most independent and adventuresome,” said Bree Barney, keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Tatum, the smallest, is typically the most affectionate, and likes to stay close to keepers or in her pouch; while Thelma is an excellent companion to both girls, but seems to share a special bond with Tatum.”

The joeys currently stand over 20 inches tall and weigh between 9 and 13 pounds each. When full grown, wallaby females can weigh between 26 and 35 pounds and reach a length of up to 3 feet from head to tail. Animal care staff continues to bottle-feed the trio three times a day, but will be gradually reducing the amount until they are completely weaned by the end of October.

Wallabies are members of the kangaroo family and are found primarily in Australia and on nearby islands. While red-necked wallabies are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, ongoing threats include habitat loss and lack of resources, specifically water, due to continued regional drought.

Guests visiting the Safari Park can see the wallaby joeys in Walkabout Australia—an immersive, interactive experience that allows guests to discover the wildlife and habitats of the Land Down Under, and learn how Australia’s one-of-a-kind species interact with humans who share their world. Walkabout Australia provides guests a unique opportunity for up-close animal interactions with wallabies, kangaroos and various birds. The experience is similar to those offered by zoos in Australia, which is a key part of their work to engage local communities in species preservation.