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Coco’s story

January 5th, 2017

This is ‘Coco’ – a male agile wallaby joey. Many readers would be familiar with his mother Apple, a charismatic wallaby that won the hearts of many visitors to Thala Beach Nature Reserve (for more on Apple click here). Sadly Apple passed away recently, leaving Coco an orphan. The good news is that despite a rocky start Coco is doing well and will one day be released back to the wild.


About 6:30pm on November 8th we received a distressed call from Loren at Thala Beach Nature Reserve reporting that Apple was very sick and that her joey had gotten a fright and run off into the bush. He was still quite young (less than 1kg) and not used to spending much time away from mum, especially at night. We arrived  just on dusk and immediately started scouring the area. I was not optimistic we would find him – trying to to locate a tiny, scared joey in a huge area of thick bush at night is like trying to finding a needle in a haystack. But we we had to try. Armed with our headlights we split up. After about 20mins of fruitless searching I suddenly I heard someone cry out ‘He’s here! He’s here!’. Loren had heard a ‘chirp’ which is a peculiar sound made by joeys to call their mothers. He only did it the one time, but that was enough to hone in on the sound. In the beam of Loren’s torchlight appeared a small, brown fur ball.

We couldn’t believe our luck – against all odds we had found him!


Coco after his first night in care. His left eye is swollen and tender due to green ant bites.

Sucking his dummy. Marsupials have an innate urge to suckle and having a dummy helps reduce the stress of orphaning.

That face.

Coco was severely underweight and dehydrated by the time we got him so received fluids immediately upon getting him home (via subcutaneous injection). His left eye was swollen and he couldn’t open it as a result of green ant bites. Other than that he seemed ok and took the bottle well. He continued to feed and after a few days of medicated drops was able to open his eye again. He did well for first two weeks but then started to show signs of illness – diahorrea, lethargy and an unwillingness to eat. He was diagnosed with e.coli and pneumonia – both common killers in orphaned joeys.

Keeping Coco hydrated with electrolytes. Joeys can dehydrate and perish quickly so it’s very important to keep them hydrated at all times

A few of the medications Coco was on. Poor little thing had to be stabbed with multiple needles every day as the best way to administer antibiotics to wallabies is via intramuscular injection. 

After consulting with vets and other wildlife carers Coco was put on a treatement regime that included 3 different types of antibiotics (administered intramuscularly), electrolytes and supplements. He needed constant monitoring and neither of us got much sleep! After a week of critical care he started to show signs of improvement and we are thrilled to report that since then has made a full recovery.

Here he is enjoying a hop shortly after a rain shower.