Baby numbat rescued near Perup

Photo: Jen Thompson

Photo: Jen Thompson

Last weekend, Project Numbat assisted in rescuing a baby numbat. It was brought from Frankland River to Perth Zoo after a call from Uralla Wildlife Sanctuary. Perth Zoo has been taking excellent care of the baby numbat and it is now in a stable condition.  

Project Numbat president Tamara Wilkes-Jones was looking forward to a relaxed Friday evening pizza and footy night at her home in Perth with her husband Mark. A call from Uralla Wildlife Sanctuary in the South West changed everything. Next thing they were in the car for a 4-hour drive down south, armed with a hot water bottle, a box and some towels. Because that’s what you do when you want to save endangered wildlife from extinction.

Earlier that day, volunteers from Uralla Wildlife Sanctuary had contacted the Wildlife Helpline asking them what the best procedure was to deal with a baby numbat. They had picked the baby numbat up in Frankland River, after the young one had become separated from his mother near Perup, in the numbat heartland. Their request was answered with a surprised reaction: “Are you sure it is a numbat?” With only 1,000 numbats left in the wild, the finding of the baby numbat came as a big surprise to all involved.

So what do you do with a baby numbat? Enter Project Numbat and Perth Zoo. “Once it was confirmed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife that it was indeed a numbat, we knew there was no time to waste. Only a handful of people know how to take care of a numbat. So we got in our car for the 4-hour drive down – and back”, says Tamara-Wilkes Jones. Early Saturday morning, the baby numbat was safely delivered at Perth Zoo, where specialist keepers took over. “The numbat could not be in a better place,” says Principal Research Scientist Dr. Tony Friend from the Department of Parks and Wildlife. “Perth Zoo has over two decades of experience with breeding numbats to save them from extinction and the little one has the best chance of survival in their care.”

The baby male numbat is called Frankie after the place he was picked up. He is estimated to be between 6 to 7 months old. “He was so tiny he fitted in the palm of my hand” recalls Tamara Wilkes-Jones, who has been in close contact with the keepers at Perth Zoo and receives regular updates about how he is doing. “Frankie’s feeding every 6 hours now and is doing well, which is such a relief.”