First class flight to Sydney for abandoned potoroo baby

A baby long-nosed potoroo abandoned by its mother on the South East coast will soon make her new home at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, flying first-class with Regional Express Airlines.

The native baby was found by State Forests staff conducting routine flora and fauna surveys in Nadgee State Forest in late February.

The small potoroo was dubbed ‘Sandy’ by her rescuers.

“Had she been left to fend for herself in the wild, Sandy would have almost certainly died,” State Forests Eden-based ecology assistant, Neil Hampshire, said. “I could have walked away and let nature take its course. But being involved with wildlife, and knowing that a little animal of this age would only last a very short time, I picked her up.”

“She weighed just 73 grams and needed to be fed every two hours. She would have been totally defenceless against any predators.”

Mr Hampshire said the Native Animal Network Association (NANA), a wildlife group operating in the area, found Sandy a temporary home with long-time NANA members Henny and Wal Mullard of Wolumla.

“Henny and Wal were only too pleased to take Sandy and spend many late nights feeding her, and learning about the potoroo’s habits,” he said.

“It is not an easy task to take on as there is little or no information about raising potoroos - so commonsense is the key.

“She was only allowed to drink one millilitre of mixture so as not to upset her tummy.

“But once Sandy was drinking without any trouble she was put onto 1.5 millilitres every three hours, six times a day.

“So you can see that Henny and Wal would not be getting a lot of sleep.”

The next step was to find a place for Sandy to spend the rest of her life in safety, as she would not survive if released back into the wild.

Mrs Mullard contacted the Taronga Zoo and was pleased to find out that the zoo had a breeding program for the long-nosed potoroo and the necessary steps have been taken to secure a place for little Sandy.

Australian mammals keeper at Taronga, Mrs Annette Gifford, said she was looking forward to introducing Sandy into the breeding group and hoped that some day she would produce offspring to increase the zoo’s potoroo population.

“Potoroos are one of the unknown marsupials and displaying them at Taronga increases public awareness of this beautiful small mammal. So come along to Taronga Zoo’s nocturnal house and pay her a visit,” she said.

The next hurdle was how to get Sandy to Sydney as fast as possible so that she would not be unduly stressed.

Regional Express Airlines at Merimbula was contacted and Mr Ian Baker said the airline would be pleased to do its bit for Sandy and offered to fly her to Sydney, first class of course, for free.

Mr Hampshire said it was wonderful to see that community spirit was alive and well in the region.

So in a week or two, little Sandy will be ready to leave her Wolumla home and go to the safety of the Taronga Zoo, where hopefully in time she will become a mother and have some little potoroos of her own.

Media contact: Neil Hampshire at State Forests Eden office on (02) 6496 1500. Photos available by contacting Sarah Chester on (02) 6036 2110.

Taronga Zoo: Mark Williams, Media Relations Manager on (02) 9978 4607.