Watch: Baby Kangaroo Rescued After His Mother Dies
When Sherri Midson got a call about a kangaroo dying on private property in New South Wales, Australia, she immediately went to investigate.
Unfortunately, the kangaroo was dead by the time Midson arrived. With her husband recording the incident, Midson then reached inside the kangaroo's pouch, pulling out a small joey. The joey, seen wriggling and kicking its legs, was so small it fit entirely in Midson's hand.
Pulling the joey from its mother, Midson then cut the mother's teat, on which the joey was still suckling.
"The little boy was still attached, and if you just pull the baby off, you can damage their mouths," said Midson. "So we cut them, and a lot of times the baby will let go soon after."
Because of the joey's small size and fragile state, Midson delivered the baby to a caregiver with more experience caring for infant kangaroos. The baby weighed only 250 grams, which gives it a low chance of survival, according to Midson. Joeys are more likely to survive to adulthood without their mothers once they have reached at least 500 grams.
With the dead mother showing no visible signs of injury, Midson guessed that she may have fallen while trying to jump a fence, a common cause of death for kangaroos.
Midson and her husband frequently embark on voluntary rescue missions. At an enclosure near their home, the Midsons currently have joeys that were rescued from bush fires or orphaned after cars struck their mothers.
If kept in womb-like conditions, older joeys have a strong chance for survival. Midson claims weening one from its mother and substituting a plastic bottle is one of the most challenging aspects of raising a joey.
Finding orphaned joeys is not uncommon in Australia.
The nation has over 30 million kangaroos, a population that has often been a point of controversy. Early turn-of-the-century development in Australia resulted in fewer trees, exposing the type of grassland on which kangaroos thrive. They often compete with livestock for food, which farmers claim is a threat to their livelihoods.
Many kangaroos are found struck by cars, injured in human-made structures such as fences, or killed by dogs protecting livestock. In 2017, Australia has allowed for a million kangaroos to be culled.
Jed Winer contributed to this story.