Record number of quoll joeys born at Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary

There has been a baby boom in eastern quolls at a New South Wales wildlife reserve, with record numbers of joeys being born this season.

The breeding program is run by Aussie Ark with the aim of saving the endangered quoll species.

The small carnivorous marsupial was once widespread in Australia but has been extirpated from the continent since the early 1960s.

It is now only found in the wild in Tasmania, where their numbers have been declining for decades, with no signs of improving.

The Aussie Ark breeding program began in 2017 when nine eastern Tasmanian quolls were delivered to the organization’s Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary on the New South Wales north coast.

Since then, the organization has bred and released 250 quolls in its large predator-proof sanctuary.

This year, checks of pouches at the facility revealed a total of 63 joey births, which is the highest the program has recorded in one breeding season.

An eastern quoll with guards in the Aussie Ark sanctuary area.(Provided: Aussie Ark)

“This baby boom quoll is truly amazing,” said Aussie Ark COO Dean Reid.

“The birth of these joeys feels like a modern day Jurassic Park.

“[We’re] bringing a species back from the brink to reclaim the Australian bush.”

A small marsupial with brown fur and white spots on its hind legs looking over its shoulder in a grassy area
Attempts have been made to release eastern quolls into the wild.(Provided: WWF)

“Resavage of the Continent”

Predation by wild animals along with poisoning, trapping and clearing led to the disappearance of the eastern quoll.

The last is believed to have been killed on the mainland in 1963.

Jake Meney has worked with the eastern quolls and says the breeding program is an important way to try to increase the number of species.

“The biggest threat is wild predators like foxes and cats,” he said.

“Our goal is to keep these quolls inside our wildlife-proof sanctuary, and they’re doing extremely well.”

Mr Meney said the longer-term plan was to release quolls in parts of mainland Australia.

“Our goal at Aussie Ark is to rewild the continent, to make the landscape look like it did hundreds of years ago, and the eastern quolls were certainly part of that landscape,” he said. -he declares.

“Aussie Ark have already been involved in a few outings on the south coast of NSW…in a fairly small area.

“I hope this is just the start of something much bigger.”

Two men look at the pouch of a quoll, a small marsupial.
Dean Reid and Tyler Gralton checking out a quoll cover.(Provided: Aussie Ark)

Young quols watched

This season’s joeys are born in a specific enclosure so that the animals can be carefully cared for and monitored.

Joeys are still tiny and won’t come out of the safety of their mother’s pockets until they are a few months old.

The hands of animal keepers, checking joeys in the pocket of an oriental quoll.
The guards check the pouch of an oriental quoll.(Provided: Aussie Ark)

“As is the case with marsupials, they are born extremely underdeveloped. They are pink, they have no fur and they are quite vulnerable,” Mr Meney said.

“We like to leave the female alone to raise the young in the pouch and check on them periodically.

“The exciting moment is when they leave the pouch and start spending time on mum’s back…they have fur at this stage and are incredibly cute as juveniles.”

A baby quoll, brown with white spots, curled up in a person's hands.
An oriental quoll joey from a previous breeding season – the last joeys will leave their mother’s pouch once they are about two months old.(Provided: Aussie Ark)

Encouragingly, there have also been some successful breedings among the quolls released in previous years in the larger sanctuary area.

“It’s really exciting,” Mr. Meney said.

“Our largest sanctuary is 400 hectares, so they are always released with radio-tracking collars.

“That way, even in our own sanctuary, we can keep an eye on them.”

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