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Detroit Zoo's search for missing 5-month-old wallaby ends


Royal Oak — The search for a baby wallaby that disappeared last weekend from a Detroit Zoo exhibit is over, officials said.

“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," the zoo said in a statement. "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," the statement said. "At this point, after so many days away from the mother, we do not believe this joey could still be alive."

On Monday, zoo officials said they expected the 5-month-old wallaby – about the size of a small rabbit – was taken by a predator from outside the park. The missing joey's mother is a 4-year-old red-necked wallaby named Sprocket. The missing baby wallaby was her first offspring.

The baby wallaby was introduced May 6 to the public and was discovered missing early Sunday from the zoo's Australian Outback Adventure habitat. It had last been seen by staff at about 5 p.m. Saturday.

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A massive search of the habitat was conducted, but staff could find no sign of the missing wallaby, nor where it could have escaped.

Officials said the search was expanded beyond the wallaby and kangaroo habitat. The exhibit is about 90,000 square feet or a little more than two acres of land and it has 11 kangaroos and three red-necked wallabies, according to the zoo. The park has a total of about 125 acres.

Officials said the zoo is reviewing its policies and procedures in the wake of the wallaby's disappearance.

"When tragedies like this occur, we must review and revisit our policies and procedures to ensure we are doing everything possible to preserve the life and welfare of the animals in our care," zoo officials said in a statement. "Our leadership team is currently undergoing this process."

Meanwhile, the wallaby's mother appears to be healthy and doing well, the zoo said.

"Animal care staff continues to provide her — and every animal at the Zoo — with the highest level of care," it said. "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."

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez