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Kangaroo Joeys Think Outside the Pouch at Brookfield Zoo

Kangaroo Joey-5

Two Western Grey Kangaroos born at Brookfield Zoo have been spending time outside their mothers’ pouches exploring their outdoor habitat. The young Kangaroos, called joeys, were born on February 20 and March 13 of last year to moms Daisy, 7½, and Sheila, 11.

Kangaroo Joey-8

Kangaroo Joey-1

Kangaroo Joey-2
Photo Credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

The 10- and 11-month-old joeys only recently began hopping around and exploring their surroundings. They spent the first several months of life tucked into their mothers’ pouches, where they nursed and grew.  They will continue to nurse until they are 18 months old.  Of course by then, they’ll no longer be able to fit in the pouch.

At birth, a joey is extremely underdeveloped and is about the size of a jellybean. During this early stage of development, a mother produces low-fat milk for her young, and as a joey gets older and ventures out of the pouch, the milk becomes high in fat. A truly amazing attribute of this species is that if a mother Kangaroo is nursing a newly born joey and a juvenile already out of the pouch, she has the ability to produce both low-fat milk and high-fat milk at the same time.

Western Grey Kangaroos are one of 60 species of Kangaroos and Wallabies, all of which are native to Australia.