THE Perth Zoo has welcomed a very small but important critter.
A baby numbat, who had been separated from his 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 bred 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 good amount of weight to develop like a normal numbat.
“With any animal that is orphaned we want to make sure 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 (DPaW) 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 then 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 DPaW employee to pick the numbat up.
“He asked if I could pick up the numbat and then through a few phone calls and deciding what to do, 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 about it 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.”