Zookeepers have been left baffled by the mysterious disappearance of a five-month-old wallaby.
The young marsupial had only just learned to make his first steps outside of his mother's pouch when he must have been snatched from above by a beastly bird of prey, staff says.
Only a couple of days earlier, the Detroit Zoo shared on Facebook how excited it was to see the joey out and about in good health, describing him as a "new bundle of joy".
Last Sunday (May 8), the zoo in Michigan, US, announced how a search party had been launched and security footage was being checked to try and find him.
An update on Tuesday provided no better news either, leading to the very real fear that the poor wallaby had been preyed upon and no longer alive.
The initial post said: "We are heartbroken to update you that the 5-month-old wallaby joey whose story we shared on Friday is missing. The joey was last seen by animal care staff around 5 p.m.
"Saturday and was discovered missing from the Australian Outback Adventure habitat early this morning.
"Immediately, animal care staff began searching for the little one. Zoo staff is carefully examining the habitat and areas around it while also reviewing trail cameras and surveillance cameras all over the Zoo."
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The post which has been reacted to nearly eight million times online continued: "At his or her age, the joey is just beginning the process of independence by spending time outside the pouch, but still nursing and spending time in the pouch.
"It is unlikely that the young wallaby can survive an extended amount of time away from the mother. We are reviewing every potential scenario and remain hopeful this joey will be found unharmed."
Scott Carter, chief Life Sciences officer at the Zoo later told Detroit News that it had never happened before and the most probably explanation was a bird of prey swooping down and flying off with the animal.
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Scott said: “We can’t overlook the possibility that an owl or a hawk took the joey. It may be that is the case and we’ll never find the joey.”
Responding to the hundreds of Facebook comments, the zoo thanked animal lovers for their concern on Tuesday but admitted no progress in their hunt has left staff "devastated".
It commented: "Unfortunately, there is no update to pass along about this wallaby joey.
"We've read all of your comments more than once and cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful messages. As you can imagine, our animal care staff is devastated."
The joey disappeared from a two-acre habitat of 11 kangaroos and wallabies where native predators, such as owls and hawks live near by.
"At this time, we believe it is likely one of these aerial predators was involved," the zoo wrote.
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