Wally

Accustomed to getting places via Mom’s pouch as a baby, Wally the wallaroo figured out how to continue catching a ride to get around his exhibit!
  • 1950s

Why walk (or hop) when you can hitch a ride? That might have been the logic behind Wally the wallaroo’s fondness for wheelbarrow rides. In the 1950s, keeper Ralph “Gabe” Davis found out that his duties—along with cleaning the wallaroo exhibit—included serving as a chauffeur for the adorably eccentric Wally. As Davis would finish his work, Wally would bound over to the wheelbarrow and hop in, enjoying the trip as his dedicated keeper took him on a lap or two around the exhibit. This daily habit became so well known that the local newspaper featured a picture of joyriding Wally.

When ZOONOOZ’s own photographer, Richard Van Nostrand, came to snap a photo for the magazine, Wally reacted much like any kid whose parents swear junior can sing or dance—he refused to budge an inch, and he showed no interest in the wheelbarrow. But Davis, knowing his charge’s personality, tickled and petted Wally until he could no longer contain himself, and the young wallaby jumped into the wheelbarrow, ready to roll.

As Davis wheeled him about, Van Nostrand took several photos. Wally became fascinated by something the photographer was holding—and hopped over for a closer look, his keeper-powered vehicle quickly forgotten. The shutterbug was startled, until he realized that Wally simply wanted a closer look at the flashbulb from his camera! Once Van Nostrand left, Wally rediscovered his wheelbarrow, and cajoled Davis until the kindly keeper took him on a couple of victory laps.

Do you remember seeing this animal at the San Diego Zoo?
Share your favorite stories and memorabilia here!

Images of San Diego Zoo Centennial commemorative pins. ShopZoo: Your one-stop shop for Centennial commemoratives, gear, and more!