The Wallaby Walkthrough at Marwell Zoo has been transformed following a £30,000 makeover – much to the delight of the resident red-necked wallabies.
The new and improved habitat – twice the size of the original – features a small creek, pool, stream, and pond, plus a natural seating area for guests to relax surrounded by wildlife.
Helen Murphy, Marwell Zoo’s Plants and Landscapes Supervisor, said: “Our aim was to create an immersive landscape for both our guests and the animals, creating a habitat in which the animals could thrive and bring out more of their natural behaviours.
“We’ve almost doubled the area available to the wallabies and created an area where guests can sit, watch the animals and reflect rather than it being a traditional walkthrough experience. I love how peaceful the enclosure feels, especially when sitting in the dwell area looking back over the pond, watching the dragonflies and damselflies flitting around. Overnight the area turned into a real haven for wildlife, which is wonderful to see!
The transformation was no easy feat, however, with the team moving 250 tonnes of soil, 80 tonnes of rock and gravel plus 40 tonnes of sand during one of the wettest winters in over 20 years.
Following a few delays caused by lockdown, the majority of the planting will now take place this autumn. In the meantime, the wallabies – who are herbivores with a 90 percent grass diet – will take part in a taste test ahead of the landscapers fully planting their new home to avoid them eating everything!
Helen said: “Our vets team have contacted zoo colleagues in Australia and we’re hoping to get good results from the taste tests to find grasses that are safe for the wallabies but they don’t like the taste of so they will leave it alone, so watch this space!
“It has been a labour of love. My favourite moment was seeing one of the wallabies taking a drink from the pond and then paddling across the pool within the first hour of being released – that’s exactly what I had in mind when I designed the water feature but seeing it actually happen was so gratifying and made those cold wet days skidding around in the mud well worth it!”
For information on visiting Marwell Zoo go to www.marwell.org.uk/zoo/
Main image: Red-necked wallaby at Marwell Zoo