By Tui Benjamin
This heartbreaking footage shows the tragic moment a tiny kangaroo joey reached out desperately from his pouch for his dead mum.
Wildlife volunteer Mel Fraser from Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network discovered the days-old joey after his mother was hit by a car in Lancefield, Victoria, Australia.
When the rescuer checked the lifeless adult kangaroo’s body she noticed the baby animal stretching his tiny arm out of his pouch and waving as if for help.
The joey, christened Dawson, initially thrived under the care of his foster mum Christine Gilmore – who was tasked with providing him 24-hour care – but sadly later passed away.
Christine, who can be caring for up to 30 kangaroos at any one time from her sanctuary, Coopers Animal Rescue in Dales Creek, Victoria, said: “Dawson was so small – he was the equivalent of a premature baby being born at 24 weeks, his eyes were still fused shut and he had no fur – but we always try to give joeys a chance.
“We feed them every two hours and it is really important to keep them warm.
“But they also need the will to live, if they do not have that they won’t make it through.
“When you lose them it is terrible because you spend all that time with them trying to get them through.
“Dawson was going well and had his bottle through the night but when we woke up in the morning he was gone.
“These things just make us want to keep doing what we do.”
Mel was called out to help six weeks ago after a member of the public spotted an adult female kangaroo which had been hit by a car.
Rescuers believe the motorist continued driving after the collision, leaving the mum with agonising injuries.
By the time Mel arrived the mother kangaroo had already passed away but when she inspected her pouch she discovered Dawson fighting for survival.
Dawson – known as a ‘pinky’, a name given to joeys which have not yet grown fur – was immediately placed in a fabric pouch and rushed to Christine for 24-hour care.
But despite round the clock bottle feeding every two hours, he sadly later died two weeks ago.
Fiona Corke, from Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network said: “Dawson went into care with our volunteer wildlife carer Christine but sadly he passed away.
“He was very small when he was rescued and would have suffered great shock and perhaps injuries that were not apparent from the impact of the car hitting his mum.
“Sometimes the grief of a losing their mum is also too much for a joey, meaning they never seem to thrive.
“Christine has a great track record with very small baby kangaroos, known as pinkies, but sadly this is the reality of what can happen.
“If you find a live joey in a deceased mother’s pouch, for its own health and welfare it must be passed onto a wildlife carer who has experience in bringing these fur babies up.
“It’s not easy – they need special milk at all times of the day and night and have other needs such as toileting.
“If these aren’t met or they are fed the wrong milk or formula the baby kangaroo will most likely die.
“All wildlife have special dietary needs and requirements depending on their age and species and it is illegal for members of the public to keep wildlife without a licence.”