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Every morning, Amanda Dukart's routine is the same as many 25-year-olds – she brushes her teeth, eats breakfast and gets ready for work.
But recently, Dukart’s daily duties have changed drastically. She now has a little mouth to feed. It’s not her daughter or son but instead a baby kangaroo.
“It’s quite an adjustment,” Dukart told ABC News. “It’s like a new baby.”
As a full-time zookeeper and animal trainer at the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, North Dakota, Dukart has become a human mother to Barkly, the 4-month-old kangaroo. Barkly’s mother died unexpectedly one week ago, leaving her orphaned and still developing.
Baby kangaroos are expected to live in their mother’s pouch for nearly six months. Although Dukart – not being a marsupial – doesn’t have a pouch of her own, she decided to make one.
“It’s a little different than human development, where it happens inside,” Dukart said. “Joeys are very underdeveloped when they’re born.”
Unlike human babies (or most other mammals for that matter), the lungs, bones, sight and hearing are a few of the small areas in which joeys are underdeveloped.
Dukart made a pouch out of fleece. She carries Barkly at her hip all day, every day.
“I’m working full time with a baby,” she said. “I think my cats are starting to feel a little neglected.”