Wallaby capers

IF you go down to the woods of Hartest today, you're sure of a big surprise. A new arrival on the grounds of Gifford's Hall is turning heads and going hopping mad, as a baby wallaby takes its first brave steps into the world.

IF you go down to the woods of Hartest today, you're sure of a big surprise.

A new arrival on the grounds of Gifford's Hall is turning heads and going hopping mad, as a baby wallaby takes its first brave steps into the world.

Though unclear about the sex, vineyard owners John and Jeanie Kemp affectionately christened the infant Joey after it was born in February.

Proud parents Bruce and Sheila and a third female marsupial, Edna, have become a big hit with the public after the red necked wallabies were introduced to the visitor attraction near Bury St Edmunds just over a year ago.


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Mr Kemp said: "The wallabies are all fairly tame, though they haven't got to the stage of feeding out of your hands. We had hoped we might have had babies last year and we were beginning to wonder if we had bought three males.

"But one day we noticed kicking in the lower abdomen of one of the girls.

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"It was another couple of weeks before Joey began to take a look at the world but now he or she regularly leaves the pouch and hops around independently."

When born, Joey was the size of a baby mouse, but red necked wallabies which are in the same family as kangeroos can grow up to 3ft tall.

One person who is not as keen on the new arrival is Willow, a tame roe deer, who was bottle raised by Mrs Kemp and also lives in the vineyard, which re-opens to the public at Easter.

Ironically, the couple decided to introduce some wallabies to the grounds to keep Willow company.

Mr Kemp explains: "One of our visitors found Willow as a baby deer at the bottom of our vineyard. We waited all day for the mother to return but she never did.

"After two years with us we were concerned he was living on his own but the likelihood of getting another roe deer was remote.

"The nearest thing to a deer we could think of was a wallaby."

Though Mr Kemp said Willow was very friendly and a great people-person, he does have one fatal flaw - jealousy.

Mr Kemp said: "He doesn't think much of the wallabies, he simply ignores them. I think he likes all the attention for himself. His real friend is a red chicken and they go around together constantly."

Do not tell Willow, but he may soon be having some more unwanted company with Edna showing signs of carrying an infant in her pouch.

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