Detroit Zoo staff 'devastated' by mysterious death of this missing baby wallaby

May 13, 2022, 3:09 PM

The unnamed newborn peeked out of its mother's pouch recently. (Photos: Patti Tuesdell/Detroit Zoological Society)

The Detroit Zoo confirms what appeared likely when a young wallaby disappeared last weekend: "We do not believe this joey could still be alive."

The 5-month-old cutie was still nursing.

No remains were found, reinforcing unofficial speculation that a bird of prey such as a hawk, falcon or owl swooped in as an unseen killer.

The zoo's social media post Friday adds:

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

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

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

The unsigned announcement said the Royal Oak attraction's leadership is reviewing "our policies and procedures to ensure we are doing everything possible to preserve the life and welfare of the animals in our care."

Original article, Monday:

This is unlikely to end well.

A newborn wallaby vanished two days after the Detroit Zoo gushed about "a new bundle of joy" and posted four portraits of the adorable offspring "just starting to leave mom’s pouch for seconds at a time."

A follow-up announcement Sunday says:

We are heartbroken to update you that the 5-month-old wallaby joey whose story we shared on Friday is missing. The joey was last seen by animal care staff around 5 p.m. Saturday and was discovered missing from the Australian Outback Adventure habitat early this morning.

Immediately, animal care staff began searching for the little one. Zoo staff is carefully examining the habitat and areas around it while also reviewing trail cameras and surveillance cameras all over the zoo. ...

It is unlikely that the young wallaby can survive an extended amount of time away from the mother. We are reviewing every potential scenario and remain hopeful this joey will be found unharmed.

The unnamed animal, which still was nursing, apparently wandered away somehow or became the victim of a predator's intrusion.


"Wallaby joeys can stay in their mothers' pouches up to eight months after gestation," says Friday's post. Keepers hadn't yet determined the gender of this first delivery by a red-necked wallaby named Sprocket.

The Australian exhibit at the zoo in Royal Oak has both kangaroos and wallabies, their smaller marsupial cousins.

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