STANDARDS

CCSS: 3.MD.A.2, 4.MD.A.2, 5.MD.C.3; MP2, MP5, MP6

TEKS: 3.7D, 3.7E, 4.8C, 4.9, 5.6

Milk Makers

A father-son team helps orphaned animals

Courtesy of Wombaroo

This joey (a young kangaroo) drinks a special milk formula made by Brian and Gordon Rich.

Thirty years ago, a vet in Australia needed help. He’d been trying to save baby kangaroos and wombats, called joeys, that had been orphaned by their mothers. Like all baby mammals, these joeys needed milk to grow into strong, healthy adults. The vet fed the joeys a formula, or artificial milk, made from cow’s milk. But the formula made the joeys sick. The vet turned to biochemist Brian Rich for help.

Brian researched the exact chemical formulas for milk produced by kangaroo and wombat mothers. He found that different species of mammals produce very different milks. Since milks can be so different, they’re often not interchangeable. A baby kangaroo can’t fully digest milk made by a cow. So Brian started his own company, Wombaroo, to develop formulas for all kinds of mammals. That way orphaned mammal babies can get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow properly.

Thirty years ago, a vet in Australia needed help. He'd been trying to save baby kangaroos and wombats. They're called joeys. They had been orphaned by their mothers. All baby mammals need milk to grow strong, healthy adults. These joeys were no different. The vet fed the joeys a formula. It was an artificial milk. It was made from cow's milk. But the formula made the joeys sick. The vet turned to biochemist Brian Rich for help.

Brian researched the exact chemical formulas for milk produced by kangaroo and wombat mothers. He found that different species of mammals produce very different milks. This means you can't use them in place of one another. A baby kangaroo can't fully digest milk made by a cow. So Brian started his own company. It's called Wombaroo. It develops formulas for all kinds of mammals. That way, orphaned mammal babies can get the nutrition they need. They can be healthy and grow properly.

Now, Brian runs Wombaroo with his son Gordon, a chemical engineer. They’ve developed milk formulas for dozens of species of mammals, from giraffes to house cats and even manatees!

Most of the raw materials the father-son team uses come from cow’s milk, because it is a source of dairy that’s easy to get. But luckily, scientists have broken down cow’s milk into individual ingredients, so Gordon and Brian use only what they need.

Now, Brian runs Wombaroo with his son Gordon. He is a chemical engineer. They've developed milk formulas for dozens of species of mammals. They include giraffes, house cats, and even manatees!

Most of the raw materials the Riches come from cow's milk. That's because it's easy to get. But luckily, scientists have broken down cow's milk into individual ingredients. So Gordon and Brian use only what they need.

MATTHEW ABBOTT/The New York Times/Redux

Brian Rich (left) and his son Gordon Rich (right) make formulas for captive orphaned mammals.

“The real challenge occurs when an animal’s milk has a unique ingredient,” explains Gordon.

For example, elephant’s milk has fats in it that are not present in cow’s milk. The Riches had to find an ingredient that had the right fats. The best match: coconut oil! They blended it in with the other ingredients.

"The real challenge occurs when an animal's milk has a unique ingredient," explains Gordon. 

For example, elephant's milk has fats in it that are not in cow's milk. The Riches had to find an ingredient that had the right fats. Coconut oil worked best. They blended it in with the other ingredients.

MATTHEW ABBOTT/The New York Times/Redux

A keeper feeds sugar gliders, a type of possum, a custom formula at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia.

Gordon’s favorite animals to work with are Australian natives, like kangaroos and koalas. Most of these mammals are marsupials. They raise their young inside a pouch.

“They are unique to our region and aren’t found anywhere else in the world,” he says. “If we don’t look after them, then who else will?”

Gordon's favorite animals to work with are Australian natives. Those include kangaroos and koalas. Most of these mammals are marsupials. They raise their young inside a pouch.

"They are unique to our region and aren't found anywhere else in the world," he says. "If we don't look after them, then who else will?"

1. Divide the class into small groups. Have each group fill the 2-liter bottle with water. Then pour some of that water into the 1-liter bottle until the 1-liter bottle is full. Record how much water is in each bottle.

2. Discuss the following question as a class: If the capacity of the 2-liter bottle is two liters, what is the volume?

3. Pour the water from the 1-liter bottle into the quart-sized container. Record how full the quart-sized container is.

4. Predict how many milliliters you think are in a liter.

5. Pour the water from the 2-liter bottle into the 500 mL beaker. Determine and record the number of milliliters in a liter.

6. Use the 1 mL dropper to pick up a drop of water from the 500 mL beaker. Record the number of 1 mL drops that are in the 500 mL beaker.

7. Determine if a liter is bigger or smaller than a quart.

1. Divide the class into small groups. Have each group fill the 2-liter bottle with water. Then pour some of that water into the 1-liter bottle until the 1-liter bottle is full. Record how much water is in each bottle.

2. Discuss the following question as a class: If the capacity of the 2-liter bottle is two liters, what is the volume?

3. Pour the water from the 1-liter bottle into the quart-sized container. Record how full the quart-sized container is.

4. Predict how many milliliters you think are in a liter.

5. Pour the water from the 2-liter bottle into the 500 mL beaker. Determine and record the number of milliliters in a liter.

6. Use the 1 mL dropper to pick up a drop of water from the 500 mL beaker. Record the number of 1 mL drops that are in the 500 mL beaker.

7. Determine if a liter is bigger or smaller than a quart.

Make a class chart to compare each container and the recorded water measurements. Use the chart to help you determine which container can hold the milk needed for different baby mammals.

Make a class chart to compare each container and the recorded water measurements. Use the chart to help you determine which container can hold the milk needed for different baby mammals.

1. A young kangaroo, called a joey, needs eight 100 mL feedings of milk per day. Which container is best suited to hold the total volume of milk?

2. A baby alpaca, called a cria, needs 500 mL of milk 3 times a day. Which container is best suited to hold a day’s worth of baby alpaca milk?

3. A baby rabbit, called a kit, requires 14 mL of milk a day, split into 2 feedings. Which container would be best suited to feed a kit for 1 meal?

4. A baby horse, called a foal, needs 2,500 mL of milk 4 times a day. Which set of containers would hold enough milk for 1 serving for a foal?

1. A young kangaroo, called a joey, needs eight 100 mL feedings of milk per day. Which container is best suited to hold the total volume of milk?

2. A baby alpaca, called a cria, needs 500 mL of milk 3 times a day. Which container is best suited to hold a day’s worth of baby alpaca milk?

3. A baby rabbit, called a kit, requires 14 mL of milk a day, split into 2 feedings. Which container would be best suited to feed a kit for 1 meal?

4. A baby horse, called a foal, needs 2,500 mL of milk 4 times a day. Which set of containers would hold enough milk for 1 serving for a foal?

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