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Michigan zoo mourns the loss of mother wallaby who died unexpectedly

Ygritte was the mother of a young joey who is now being taken care of by animal care staff at John Ball Zoo.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The John Ball Zoo shared Thursday morning that a mother wallaby caring for her 8-month-old joey died unexpectedly over the weekend.

Ygritte had shown mild signs of a possible respiratory infection earlier in the week, the zoo said.

Even after a round of oral medication, the wallaby continued to decline. 

Animal staff examined the wallaby and found two abnormal teeth that needed to be pulled, and that procedure seemed to go smoothly. 

The recovery process, however, did not. 

"Despite the efforts of our animal health and animal care teams, they were not able to get Ygritte through the recovery process," the zoo said in a Facebook post. 

"Losses like this are always difficult, but our focus is now on the care of her growing joey, who is doing very well."

Ygritte was born in 2015 at the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana, and made it to John Ball Zoo in 2020. 

Credit: John Ball Zoo
Ygritte was born in 2015 at the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana, and arrived at John Ball Zoo in 2020.

Ygritte gave birth to Junee in February of 2021, and to another joey in October of 2021.  

Her 8-month-old joey is working on being independent but was still heavily reliant on her mom. 

The zoo said now this responsibility is on the animal care team to make sure she continues to stay healthy and grow. 

Staff recently learned the sex of the joey, and came up with a name that honors her mother and father. 

"Our staff has decided on the name, 'Jackie' because it combines dad’s name, 'Jack,' with mom’s name, 'Ygritte.' Ygritte was once going to be named 'Jackie,' but it didn’t quite stick," the zoo said. 

"A small team of dedicated Animal Care staff have been caring for sweet little Jackie, who needs to be bottle-fed every 3 hours (including overnight). We have provided her a soft, fabric bag to sleep in that mimics mom’s pouch- which is where she feels the safest. Right now, she is staying behind the scenes where we can closely monitor her health with hopes that she can join the rest of our wallaby mob this fall."

Credit: John Ball Zoo
Animal Care Staff at the John Ball Zoo are bottle feeding Jackie the Joey.

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