The little female joey was discovered by dedicated Rottnest Island Authority staff in the pouch of its mother who sported abrasions consistent with a bicycle incident.
A thorough check at Perth Zoo’s veterinary hospital gave the joey a clean bill of health, but weighing just a few hundred grams she was too young to survive on her own and placed into the care Australian Fauna Keeper, Stephen Catwell.
Due to their extraordinary skills, Perth Zoo’s animal keepers and veterinary staff are often called upon to become surrogate parents to a host of wildlife.
Just like raising a human baby, Stephen has to get up at all hours of the night to bottle feed and tend to the needs of the joey including helping the youngster go to the toilet and offering the comfort and security that it would have received from its Quokka mother.
“Now almost 200 days old little ‘Quobba’, an Indigenous word for ‘good', tips the scales over 600 grams and is thriving, “said Stephen.
“She is currently on four bottle feeds a day of a special marsupial milk and I have just introduced her to solid foods. Apple and corn are her favourites so far.”
When she is old enough, Quobba will find a permanent home at Perth Zoo’s Education and Learning Centre, becoming an ambassador animal to raise awareness about the Quokkas which reside at Rottnest Island, Bald Island and on the main land.
Perth Zoo in partnership with the Rottnest Island Authority and Department of Parks and Wildlife is committed to Quokka conservation and is part of a network of Australian zoos involved in a breeding program for this marsupial.
“The breeding program is important to provide a safety-net for the Quokkas that live on Rottnest as well as raising awareness for the small populations that reside in south-west WA,” said Stephen.
“Excitingly, along with this little orphaned joey, one of our adult females is currently carrying pouch young!”
“We hope that when Quobba is old enough she will contribute to the breeding program and produce offspring of her own in the future.”
Quokkas were once abundant on the Australian mainland but with the arrival of the dingo around 3,500 years ago and then foxes in the late 1800s their numbers were drastically reduced. Today they are showing signs of recovery on the mainland thanks to Parks and Wildlife’s Western Shield native animal conservation program, which includes fox control.