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Rare albino wallaby born in Paphos.

Byline: Bejay Browne

A RARE albino wallaby born at the Paphos Bird and Animal Park has been meeting the public for the first time. The animal was born on June 19, but has only just begun to leave its mother's pouch.

A close relative of the kangaroo, the small, white marsupial weighs about 5kg. According to park owner Christos Christoforou, the sex will be distinguishable in about a month.

He told the Cyprus Mail, "We have eight wallabies of natural colour and this special one, which was recently born."

The park has two pairs of breeding wallabies and four babies were born last year.

"It's a very happy event for us because [an albino wallaby] is a very rare animal," he said.

Christoforou believes the creature is only the forth one to be born into captivity, pointing out the others include two in England and one in Australia.

Underlining the rarity of the animals, he said, "There haven't been any seen in the wild for 28 years."

Christofourou said he wasn't sure of the science behind such phenomena occurring, but believed the condition was genetic.

As the creature grows and eventually completely leaves the security of its mother's pouch, it will be sensitive to the sun, but a cover of trees in its enclosure provides a good amount of shade.

Staff at the park realised the mother was pregnant as her pouch became larger.

"You can only see the baby about a month after it is born," said Chrystoforou. "It then starts coming out of the pouch: in the beginning, all the babies are of the same flesh colour."

Christofourou said he was sure the small wallaby was an albino as soon as he realised it had red eyes.

"Some of the staff were wagering me that it was just a normal baby, but slowly its white fur began to grow," he said.

Veterinary staff knew the baby to be healthy from the behaviour of the mother and from what they could see of her offspring's head poking out of her pouch.

Christoforou said, "It's something interesting and different for people to see, and it's good for us at the park."

Christoforou originally started the venture as a hobby, concentrating on birds, as he has a great love of them.

But he claims that as Cypriots don't yet appreciate and value birds enough, he decided to add a number of animals to his collection.

It now includes giraffes, zebras, monkeys, meercats and porcupines.

Sales and Marketing manager of the park Gail Coffin explained, "Our bird and snake collection is the third in Europe and we are the only licensed zoo in Cyprus."

She added, "This is such an exciting time for us, and the best time to come and see our new addition is either early in the morning or later in the day."

People from all over the world have already contacted Christoforou to express an interest in the albino wallaby, but he assured the animal would be staying at the park.

"We will be keep it," he promised.

What is a wallaby?

Wallabies are closely related to kangaroos but are smaller in size. Primarily wallabies live in Australia where there are more than thirty species. They may also be found in New Zealand, New Guinea and Hawaii.

Wallabies and kangaroos are both marsupials which means they have pouches in which they raise their young. Wallabies have large flat feet, and long tails, both of which help with balance when jumping. Most of these creatures are grey or brown.

Name the wallaby:

You can chose the name of the baby wallaby and win a pair of tickets to the park to meet him for yourself. Owner Christos Christoforou has expressed his wish that the animal has a Greek derivation. It will not be known for about a month what sex the albino wallaby is, so please send your suggestions for both, marking them 'wallaby' with your details to editor@cyprus-mail.com

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jul 31, 2009
Words:674
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