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Detroit Zoo’s extinct wallaby joey was likely snatched from above

ROYAL OAK, MI — Detroit Zoo officials are offering their best guesses on how their 5-month-old wallaby mysteriously disappeared over the weekend as they continue to search for him. They also say this is the first time an animal has disappeared from the property.

The zoo posted an update on its Facebook page in the comments section of its missing joey wallaby post saying there are native predators living near the zoo. They think one of them probably flew in and ripped the joey out of the habitat.

“We’ve never seen an animal disappear like this,” Scott Carter, director of life sciences at the zoo, told the Detroit News. “We can’t ignore the possibility that an owl or a hawk took the joey. It could be and we’ll never find the joey again.

Carter went on to tell the Detroit News that the joey was about the size of a small rabbit and it’s also possible a member of the public took the joey, but unlikely because staff and volunteers always watch the habitat when people visit make sure people stay in the way of the habitat.

The joey was last seen by animal care staff around 5:00 p.m. Saturday and was discovered missing from Australia’s Outback Adventure habitat early Sunday morning.

Sprocket, the zoo’s 4-year-old red-necked wallaby, is Joey’s mother. It’s his first Joey. The zoo had yet to determine Joey’s gender as he still lived primarily in his mother’s pouch and had only just begun to venture out on his own on occasion.

Security and staff examine trail cameras and surveillance cameras throughout the zoo as they investigate the disappearance.

This 2-acre outback Australian adventure is home to a total of 11 kangaroos and wallabies. There are three other wallabies in the habitat, including Sprocket, Eloise, and Bucky, a joey born to Eloise in 2020.

Red-necked wallabies have reddish-brown or gray coats with dark muzzles, legs, and feet. They use their long tails to help keep their balance while hopping, which is usually done in a zigzag pattern. A red-necked wallaby can jump more than 5 feet at a time.

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