KEEPERS at Blackpool Zoo might have been forgiven for thinking they were seeing double after two new arrivals appeared.
Staff are celebrating after spotting an extremely rare set of red-necked wallaby twins in their Wallaby Walkabout exhibit. The pair are thought to be the only set of red-necked wallaby twins in the UK and Europe at the moment.
Multiple births among the species are so infrequent the zoo’s animal manager, Peter Dillingham, also vice-chairman of the European Association of Zoos, has never seen twins sharing one pouch during his 39 year career.
The two tiny ‘joeys’, which were first noticed by specialist keepers at the zoo last week, belong to a three-year-old who came to the zoo in May 2011. They will remain in the mother’s pouch for around 10 months, then they will be officially recognised as being ‘born’.
Mr Dillingham said: “It is absolutely fantastic to finally see twins in one pouch and it has caused a real stir amongst staff and visitors.
“It isn’t uncommon for wallabies to be pregnant and caring for two other ‘joeys’ at a time, one out of the pouch, one in the pouch.
“As soon as the one inside the pouch leaves, another jelly-bean sized baby makes its way through the birth canal and latches onto an internal teat until it is big enough to be seen. But to have two at the same time is very rare and we are looking forward to seeing them grow over the coming months.”
The duo are part of a huge baby boom in the zoo’s Wallaby Walkabout, a walk-through exhibit designed to let visitors get as close as possible to the animals. There are nine red-necked wallaby males and 11 females at Blackpool Zoo, with seven of the females currently carrying a ‘joey’.