MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — An abandoned baby kangaroo is back with her mob after being hand-raised by the staff at a Florida zoo.
Brevard Zoo officials said in a news release that Lilly, who was born in August, was found abandoned on the floor of the zoo's habitat Jan. 23. Zookeepers believe stress caused by a severe storm the night before likely caused her mother to eject the baby from her pouch.
Florida Today reports zookeepers weren't able to reunite the pair so the staff started taking care of Lilly. The baby kangaroo was so tiny she spent several weeks in a temperature and moisture-controlled incubator.
Zoo collection manager Lauren Hinson became Lilly's primary caretaker, bottle-feeding her six times a day, eventually taking her home at night and wearing a fabric pouch to carry her.
"I took her home every single evening and brought her with me wherever I went," Hinson said in the news release. She said she conducted about 1,000 bottle feedings. "It was an incredible amount of work and a lot of missed sleep, but well worth it."
Lilly's been making supervised visits to the zoo since late May and this week officials felt it safe to finally leave her there. She'll continue to be monitored and she'll be bottle-fed twice a day for several months.