At last, the time had come to let Charlie outside of the large enclosure for the first time! I was excited to see how he reacted to being free. Would he immediately bolt for the bush in search of his own kind or shrink in fear of the unknown?
When we opened the gate to the enclosure, none of the joeys made a dash for the exit. We had to coerce all of them a bit, even Charlie. When he finally made it a foot outside the gate, I left him there and walked toward the middle of the paddock. I called out to him to reassure him that everything was okay.
Charlie took a few tentative hops around the area immediately fronting the gate. He kept looking at me in the paddock and looking back at the enclosure. When he finally decided to join me, he took giant leaps and kicked his feet to the side in midair. His glee was clearly visible.
After several sprints to and fro, Charlie settled down enough to start grazing. He remained quite close to where I was and made sure to follow me if I ever got too far away from him. I guess his instinct told him to stick by mum’s side.
Charlie also tried to interact with some of the wild adult wallabies (they are, after all, about his size), but alas, they snubbed the young punk. While they lay in the cool grass he tried to snuggle up to them, but they only grunted at him to back off. That didn’t seem to deter my happy boy as he simply hopped on his way.
The plan is to slowly increase the length of time that Charlie and the other young joeys stay outside of the large pen. For the first week or so, they’ll all be under our supervision so that they don’t wander too far away or hurt themselves. After their free time outside, we’ll return them back to the enclosure as usual. We want to build up their confidence so they can spend most of the day being free to roam outside and only come back to the pen for their bottles. It’ll be a slow process but eventually we hope they reach for freedom with both paws.