- Associated Press - Monday, May 2, 2016

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) - She only had a 25 percent chance of survival and she’s only 6 months old.

Barkly, the kangaroo joey at Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, is an orphan, the Wahpeton Daily News (https://bit.ly/1SJwaht ) reported. In February, Barkly’s mother died and since then, she’s been raised by Amanda Dukart, a zookeeper and animal trainer for the zoo. Under Dukart’s care, Barkly has not only survived, she is thriving.

“She’s got her full hair, which is a landmark,” Zoo Director Kathy Diekmann said. “When she gets her full hair, that means she’s going to make it. Barkly’s developed and now she’s growing.”

During Barkly’s development period, Dukart carried her around in a pouch that would replicate what Barkly would have experienced with her mother. Dukart remembers this as a happy time and admits she’s always going to have maternal feelings for Barkly.

“Amanda’s done an amazing job,” Diekman said, holding Barkly during a visit. “She really deserves the credit for all this.”

As Barkly matures, she’s able to handle such things as leaving and returning to her pouch, which she jumps back into head-first, Diekman said. Barkly can also be held and cared for by others, like Sen. Larry Luick, R-District 25.

“I’m a grandfather,” joked the father of five as he held Barkly during a visit Tuesday, April 19.

Since the Chahinkapa Zoo opened for its season Saturday, April 23, children now have the chance to care for their own Barkly at home. How so? With the “Barkly Bag,” a pouch that’s exactly like the one Dukart uses to care for Barkly.

“We’re always trying to further our mission of education and our administrative assistant, Brittney Close, designed and developed these bags,” Diekman said.

The Barkly Bags, designed to fit children’s bodies, come in a variety of designs. They’re perfect for carrying the kangaroo stuffed animals Chahinkapa Zoo will also be selling.

“And any profit we make goes 100 percent toward animal care,” Diekman said. “We’re selling the pouches and the stuffed Barklys individually, but it is cheaper to buy them together. (The price) is only enough to cover the costs and give us a little bit of profit.”

Close is proud to donate her work to Chahinkapa Zoo, saying it’s part of the staff’s family feeling.

During Luick’s visit, ongoing concerns about the movement of exhibits to meet FEMA standards were discussed. Diekman praised the support of Wahpeton’s Public Works Director Dennis Miranowski and Interstate Engineering during this complicated process.

In December, Diekman announced an interest in creating a home for white rhinoceroses, which would further Chahinkapa’s message of conservation while protecting the animal from rampant poaching in Africa.

“Simply put, we lost habitats with the flood (which affected Wahpeton and Breckenridge in 1997),” Diekman said Tuesday. “We need to bring back our African habitats and we’re allowed some land for that, but there’s the issue of funding.”

As Diekman explained, funding is largely skewed toward replacing what was lost, not taking on new animals such as the rhinoceros. This presents a challenge to conservation efforts.

“Zoos are ever-changing the species they have in response to the plight of animals. We want to bring in rhinoceroses, but they’re considered betterments. They’re the animal in the biggest plight right now and we’re facing the issue of ‘You can’t have that, that wasn’t what you had then,’” she said.

Nevertheless, Diekman said Chahinkapa Zoo continues to work proactively in its message of education, conservation and recreation.


Information from: Wahpeton Daily News, https://www.wahpetondailynews.com

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