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Adorable Baby Dibbler ‘Miles’ Marks Success for Species Once Believed Extinct

Sep 02, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

The Western Australia dibbler was thought to be extinct. However, after nearly 20 years of the repopulation program, Perth Zoo celebrated the birth of the 1000th baby dibbler named Miles.

The little marsupial's numbers dwindled in the region due to predators and loss habitatss, but things are looking up due to the efforts of environmentalists and zoos. According to a report from ABC News, hitting 1,000 was such a significant milestone in the zoo's thrust to re-establish the numbers of the dibbler in Western Australia that the zookeepers decided to name the newborn, which is something they do not usually practice.

Perth Zoo has little time to get attached to four-month-old Miles and his seven siblings as the group only has weeks to go before the animals are scheduled to be released into the wild. So far, the breeding program has released about 850 dibblers.

"They're not with us for long and that's good because they need to get back into the wild and display their natural behaviour," zookeeper Leslie Shaw said. "They're strong and tough little creatures and they deserve a lot of credit. They're very little but in the scheme of things they're a pretty big thing out there."

Dibblers only have a small window for mating, which likely plays a part in their slow breeding. In another report from ABC News, supervisor of the native species breeding program at Perth Zoo Cathy Lambert explained that the size of the male and female dibblers play an important role in reproduction.

"With dibbler mating, it only works if the male is bigger than the female," she said. "She will reject any dibbler that she can fight off, the strategy being that she wants, presumably, the biggest strongest male to sire her young. If he can't overpower her, it won't work."

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