Orphaned kangaroo ready to make appearance at north Georgia zoo

A north Georgia zoo is ready for a big reveal. A new joey, or baby kangaroo, is ready for her close-up.

It was a humble beginning for Lilypad, whose mother died after eating something toxic. Lilypad was only 3 months old and still in her pouch.

“When she ended up passing, we had to pull Lilypad here,” said Melissa Burns, assistant director at North Georgia Zoo.

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Burns showed WSBTV’s Wendy Corona the pouch that Lilypad grew up in.

“The movement is good for her because she feels like mom's hopping along so she thinks that she's hopping along with mom,” Burns said.

But before Lilypad got cozy in a handbag, a blue cooler mimicked her mother's pouch. It was big enough for a joey that weighed barely a pound, had no fur and had only just opened her eyes.

“Necessity breeds creativity sometimes,” Burns said.

For 2 1/2 months, Lilypad hung in a pouch within a pouch inside the cooler, which was maintained at 98 degrees.

“We duct taped all around the edges to keep the heat in, but it has this nice flap that we could do stuff through,” Burns said. “We have heat pads that we taped to the side to control her temperature. We have a humidifier to keep her all nice and moist for her skin.”

An incubator would've cost more than $1,000 and there was no time to wait for one to arrive.

Now they can't wait for Lilypad to take her first real steps, wean off the bottle and start eating solids like a real growing baby.

“I'm like a real proud mom,” Barnes said. “You're so excited that she survived and is going to grow up and be a big kangaroo.”

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