Local zoo animal gets national spotlight

Posted By: Camila Orti

corti@klkntv.com

A 16-month old wallaby from the Lincoln Children’s Zoo is getting her time in the limelight.

Liv the tammar wallaby was featured on a National Geographic show February 27, all because of a very special bond she has with zookeeper Taylor Daniels.

Daniels says she has plenty to do every day at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, but there’s one thing she particularly looks forward to.

“It’s the best part of my day, she comes over and hops right in my lap and is like, ‘hey mom, hey, what are you doing?'” Daniels said

This relationship is one not commonly found between wallabies and humans.

“Wallabies can tend to be skittish by nature,” Daniels explains.

But, it’s a relationship common between mothers and their babies. Daniels was one of three people responsible for hand-raising Liv after zookeepers found the joey on the ground, out of her mother’s pouch, last spring.

“She didn’t have any fur on her body, she was this tiny pink hairless thing,” Daniels said.

Liv was around 4 months old, young enough to require around-the-clock care, Daniels says. To keep her body warm, zookeepers had to keep Liv inside a cloth pouch for five months until she turned nine months old. In other words, the wallaby turned into Daniels’s newest roommate.

“We were also going to be needing to feed her every two and a half to three hours,” Daniels said, “I had to take her to stores with me if I had to go shopping, she was with me 24/7 so I got some interesting looks.”

The special bond grabbed the attention of National Geographic. Film crews came to the zoo last summer to feature Daniels and Liv on their “Unlikely Animal Friends” segment.

“They followed me all around the zoo, they went to my apartment,” Daniels said.

Although the marsupial is growing up, Daniels hopes their special relationship will never fade.

“I like to compare her to my own child at times, I got to see her take her first hops instead of first steps, and I got to see her take her first bites of a carrot,” Daniels said.

Wallabies look like small kangaroos. They can live up to 20 years in captivity.