Surrogacy program for Victorian brush-tailed rock wallaby

Source: Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, Vol 37, issue 1, 2006
A surrogacy program to increase the reproductive rate of the critically endangered Victorian brush-tailed rock wallaby, initially developed in semicaptive conditions, was established in close captivity at Adelaide Zoological Gardens in 1998.
Pouch young of the Victorian brush-tailed rock wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) were removed from their mothers on days 8–20 or 40–45 after parturition and placed onto the teat of a tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) or yellow-footed rock wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus) surrogate mother. During the early years of the program, mortality of brush-tail pouch young was high (12/16, 75%), both before transfer while still on their mother (5/16) and after transfer to a surrogate mother (7/11). Changing pouch young transfer methodology and improving the health status of the surrogate animals during the later years of the program significantly reduced the mortality of brush-tail pouch young (8/29). Under the new methodology, no mortality of brush-tail pouch young was observed between birth and the time of transfer, (0/29), and after transfer, pouch young mortality rate was eight of 29 (28%). Factors implicated in the improved success of the program included 1) the early transfer (between days 8 and 20) of brush-tail pouch young from mother to surrogate mother, 2) review of the veterinary history and health of the animals selected to act as surrogate mothers, and 3) increased access to grazing pasture for foster mothers. The reproductive rate of the brush-tail females in the later years of the breeding program was sixfold above natural birthing rates. These and other factors important in establishing a breeding program of this nature are discussed.

Title: Review of surrogacy program for endangered Victorian brush-tailed rock wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) with special reference to animal husbandry and veterinary considerations
Authors: David J. Schultz, Peter J. Whitehead and David A. Taggart