Officials at the Detroit Zoo are clinging to the last shreds of hope that they will find a wallaby joey, which vanished from the Australian Outback Adventure habitat sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, according to MLive. The five-month-old joey, named Sprocket, was about the size of a baby rabbit. Staff had not yet had a chance to determine its gender because it just started to venture outside of its marsupial mother’s pouch. Chief Life Sciences officer Scott Carter says it’s unlikely the animal was stolen by a person, because the habitat is always under the watchful eyes of staff and volunteers. However, he is wary of native predators that lurk nearby, per Detroit News.
"We can't overlook the possibility that an owl or a hawk took the joey. It may be that is the case, and we'll never find the joey," he says. Carter says this is the first time an animal has gone missing from the zoo, and the community is heartbroken. Also per Detroit News, zookeeper Andrew McFerrin says, "We love to see new animals at the zoo, especially babies. Because we don't know what happened to this joey and because it was so sudden, it's just very shocking for all of us."
Fox 2 Detroit says staff are reviewing surveillance and trail cameras, and volunteers continue to search under logs and "in any potential holes where it could be hiding." But hope is starting to fade. Baby wallabies may spend a couple hours each day exploring the world outside the pouch, but they are closely bonded to their parents and not expected to survive long on their own. (More wallaby stories.)