Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island has just announced the birth of a Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo, born in October last year. The female joey, named Holly, is the first tree kangaroo birth at the zoo in over 20 years, and one of only one of three born in captivity in the U.S. last year.
Tree Kangaroos are an Endangered species, and are part of a Species Survival Program – a cooperative breeding program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that aims to rehabilitate endangered and threatened species populations.
See video of mother and baby:
Zoo keepers discovered that the female tree kangaroo was pregnant after the announcement of the zoo’s plans to build a new tree kangaroo exhibit in the Australasia building by spring 2014.
“The first six months after birth is a critical time for both mother and baby. For this reason, we have put construction of the new exhibit on hold until late June 2014,” said Zoo Executive Director Dr. Jeremy Goodman, DVM. The exhibit will feature indoor and outdoor viewing areas with easy access for the animals between both spaces, giving guests a much improved view of the animals. Opening of the new exhibit is planned for early fall.
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The Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo is indigenous to the rainforests of Papua New Guinea. It is estimated that there are less than 2,500 tree kangaroos left in the wild, because of factors like habitat loss due to logging and mining, as well as hunting. Currently, there are only 53 tree kangaroos in the U.S. living in captivity, and seven in international facilities.
Along with its tree kangaroo breeding program, Roger Williams Park Zoo has also supported and worked with the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) since its inception. The TKCP is an organization with the mission of establishing an officially recognized conservation area in Papua New Guinea for tree roos to live without human interference.
Until the exhibit is completed, images of the baby roo’s development in the pouch will be displayed in the Australasia building so zoo visitors can appreciate the baby’s first months of life.