Detroit Zoo cancels search for missing 5-month-old wallaby

Detroit Zoo cancels search for missing 5-month-old wallaby

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Authorities are calling off the search for a 5-month-old wallaby who disappeared from the Detroit Zoo just days after the zoo announced his arrival.

A baby wallaby, known as ‘joey’, was found missing from Australia’s Outback Adventure habitat at Detroit Zoo on the morning of Sunday May 8. Officials said the joey was last seen by animal care staff at 5 p.m. on May 7.

Baby wallabies crawl into their mother’s pouch immediately after birth, where they continue to develop. Zoo officials were concerned for the well-being of the 5-month-old wallaby, as he was still nursing and spending time in his mother’s pouch. Officials said on Sunday it was “unlikely the young wallaby could survive long away from its mother”.

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After days of searching, zoo officials determined that the joey could not have escaped from its enclosure and that the baby wallaby was unlikely to have been taken by a visitor. The zoo released a statement this week saying they believe a hawk or owl are prime suspects in the wallaby’s disappearance.

“This 2-acre habitat is home to 11 Sprocket, Eloise and Bucky kangaroos and wallabies who were born last spring,” the statement read. “There are native predators, like owls and hawks, that live near the zoo. At this time, we believe it is likely that one of these aerial predators is involved.

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The Detroit Zoo announced Friday (May 13) that it will no longer be looking for the wallaby joey after exhausting “all resources” at its disposal, and because it does not believe the animal is still alive.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that we are ceasing our search for the wallaby joey who was discovered missing on Sunday May 8th.

“We have exhausted every resource at our disposal, spent dozens of hours reviewing all trail cameras and security footage, and thoroughly searched the zoo and surrounding area. We are heartbroken that nothing has revealed the location of this wallaby to us. At this point, after so many days away from the mother, we don’t think this joey could still be alive.

“The Detroit Zoo is a leader in animal welfare, widely known for its spacious, naturalistic habitats that mimic what an animal might see in the wild. However, when tragedies like this do occur, we must review and revise our policies and procedures to ensure that we are doing everything we can to safeguard the lives and welfare of the animals in our care. Our management team is currently following this process.

“All of us at Detroit Zoo are mourning the loss of this joey, but we are reassured to know that mother wallaby, 4-year-old Sprocket, appears to be healthy and doing well. Animal care staff continue to provide him and all zoo animals with the highest standard of care.

“Thank you to everyone who followed the search for this joey and offered their support. We are devastated that this story did not have a happy ending.

The Detroit Zoo via Facebook

The zoo originally announced the birth of the wallaby joey on Friday, May 6. The joey was so young that his sex had not yet been determined.

Another Joey was born at the zoo in 2020, the first since 2010.

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