Bandicoot births a boon for fighting extinction
Eastern Barred Bandicoots - Hope and Change - are living up to their names at Werribee Zoo.
The suitably named duo are among three critically endangered Bandicoot mums to produce six joeys within days of each other as part of Zoos Victoria’s breeding program.
In total, 10 Bandicoots have been born at Werribee Open Range Zoo this year - an important win for a species that is considered extinct in the wild on mainland Victoria.
Threatened Species Keeper Yvette Pauligk said she is delighted with the success.
“We’ve never had so many joeys born in such a short amount of time here at Werribee Open Range Zoo,” she said.
Video captured the moment zoo keepers performed the first checks-ups on the two-month-old marsupials, with all six joeys given a clean bill of health.
Ms Pauligk said she is very happy with how the Bandicoots are progressing.
“We’re seeing really positive behaviours through our cameras which monitor them at night,” she said.
“The joeys are already feeding on solids and developing really quickly.
“This baby boom demonstrates that, given the right circumstances and environment, Bandicoots can easily breed and effectively manage their own populations,” Ms Pauligk said. “It also highlights the threats bandicoots face in the wild from a range of introduced predator species.”
Many of Australia’s marsupials are threatened by introduced animals such as foxes and cats.
Zoos Victoria commenced management of the captive breeding program in 1991 and has since breed more than 600 bandicoots.
Melbourne Zoo is also celebrating Eastern Barred Bandicoot conservation success with its first joeys of the year born last month.
“Melbourne Zoo has been a very successful part of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot breeding program for the past 30 years,” Ausbush Precinct Coordinator Meagan Thomas said. “We’re so proud to be able to continue to help Zoos Victoria fight extinction.”