Christmas has come early at the Ipswich Nature Centre with two female bilbies popping out of their mother’s pouch at Bilby Burrow.
Just in time for the school holidays, Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the two little girls are a very welcome addition given the species is endangered.
“It’s not quite a Christmas miracle but these little girls are a wonderful gift for the Ipswich community and for their species,” Mayor Harding said.
“The Ipswich Nature Centre has a world class bilby breeding enclosure, and this little bilby family is part of the National Recovery Plan for the species.
“For now, we are asking the community to help celebrate the bilbies arrival by helping to find names for them.
“We have put the call out via council’s Facebook page today with a photo of the babies, so jump on and help us name these special marsupials.”
A name will be chosen on Thursday, 23 December and posted on council’s Facebook page.
Environment and Sustainability Committee Chair Councillor Russell Milligan said congratulations were in order for parents, Juniper and Roni.
“Roni, the father, was actually born at Ipswich Nature Centre during a lockdown period last year with Juniper, the mother, new to the Ipswich Nature Centre and staff tell me they are wonderful parents,” Cr Milligan said.
“They are believed to be about 13 weeks old and were discovered by staff on 15 September described as the size of a couple of jellybeans in their mother’s pouch.
“Once the joeys were discovered, staff have monitored their growth, the mother’s weight and diet over the past two and a half months.
“They are still suckling milk from their mother and will continue to do so until fully weaned at about 15 weeks.
“The Ipswich Nature Centre extends their hours over the holidays and we would like to invite you down to have a rare glimpse of the bilby babies as they grow so fast.”
Through Save the Bilby Fund, Queensland Government, and the ZAA Species Management Program, bilbies are being released into 13 fenced sites across Australia.
The Ipswich Nature Centre has bred bilbies successfully in the past, with female triplets born in 2017. Bilbies born in Ipswich have been released at the Save the Bilby Currawinya and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy Mt Gibson sites, and are said to be thriving in these specially protected areas.
Bilbies are one of the fastest breeding mammals on earth with a 12 to 14 day pregnancy, but their survival in the wild is fragile, mainly due to introduced predators.
Ipswich Nature Centre at Queens Park is open seven days a week during the school holidays from 9.30am to 4pm. They are closed Christmas Day.