A Western Grey Kangaroo joey emerged into the sunshine recently at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon, UK.
The rather ungainly exit from its mother’s pouch was probably the youngster’s first attempt. Born in May or June last year, it’s been developing in its mother’s pouch for months.
Paignton Zoo Curator of Mammals, Neil Bemment, said, “It’s been peeking out for a while, but the weather was just too chilly and wet for it to want to come out completely...and who can blame it!”
Photographer, and regular Paignton Zoo visitor, Miriam Haas, who took the photos, said, “It [the joey] spent a good 10 minutes or more enjoying the sunshine before returning to the safety of the pouch.”
Photo Credits: Miriam Haas
The Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus (also referred to as a Black-faced Kangaroo, Mallee Kangaroo, and Sooty Kangaroo) is a large and very common kangaroo found across almost the entire southern part of Australia.
The Western Grey Kangaroo is one of the largest macropods in Australia. An adult can weigh 28–54 kg (62–120 lb) and have a length of 0.84–1.1 m (2 ft 9 in–3 ft 7 in), and a 0.80–1.0 m (2 ft 7 in–3 ft 3 in) tail. They stand approximately 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in) tall.
Pouches are packed in Zoo Basel’s Kangaroo yard this spring: nearly all the females in the mob have babies!
Photo Credit: Zoo Basel
The youngsters are of varying ages, but they all have the same father, five-year-old Mitchel. No one knows the exact birthdates of the babies, which are called joeys. That’s because Kangaroo babies are the size of jellybeans at birth, and they begin life by making a very dangerous journey – the blind babies, which have only front legs, crawl unassisted from the birth canal to their mother‘s pouch. The entire birth process takes only about five minutes.
Once inside the pouch, joeys latch onto a teat and begin drinking nutritious milk. They remain in the pouch for several months as they develop, then gradually start exploring the world around them and eating solid food.
Most of Zoo Basel’s joeys were born last fall, and only recently started coming out of the pouch. One little joey named Manilla lost her mother to illness recently, but luckily two of the nursing females will allow her to drink their milk. Manilla is starting to eat solid food, but milk will be very important for her growth for another six months. One of those females, Lamilla, has her own joey in the pouch, and it peeks out from time to time.
The zoo’s Kangaroo mob has ten adults and five young kangaroos, which were born in late 2014, plus the new joeys.
Kangaroos are marsupials. Unlike placental mammals (such as humans), marsupials give birth to highly underdeveloped young which complete their development in the pouch. Most of the world’s 320 marsupial species live in Australia.
In a world first for conservation, Adelaide Zoo Keepers and Veterinarians saved the life of an orphaned Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, by utilizing a surrogate wallaby mother. It’s a technique never attempted before with a Tree Kangaroo!
Photo Credits: Zoos SA
In November last year, zookeepers arrived early one morning to make a horrible discovery. Overnight, a falling branch had crushed the zoo’s three-year-old female Tree Kangaroo, orphaning a five-week-old joey.
Acting on pure adrenalin, zookeepers made the decision to try and save the tiny joey. Due to the young age of the joey, hand rearing was not possible, which meant the only option available was to try and ‘cross-foster’ the joey into the pouch of a surrogate wallaby mother.
‘Cross-fostering’, a special breeding technique that Adelaide Zoo began pioneering in the 1990s, involves the transfer of endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species. This accelerates the breeding cycle of the original wallaby, allowing the female to increase its reproduction rate up to six or eight times in some species. This means Adelaide Zoo can build the captive population of an endangered species much more quickly.
Adelaide Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. David McLelland, says cross fostering has never been attempted on a Tree Kangaroo until that fateful morning. “We’ve had great success over the years’ cross-fostering between wallaby species, but the specialized breeding technique has never been used on a Tree Kangaroo,” David said.
“Not only are tree kangaroos distant relatives of wallabies, they also have many behavioral and physical differences. We had no idea if the Yellow-Foot Rock-Wallaby would accept the Tree Kangaroo joey, but if we wanted to save the joey we had to try our luck.”
The cross-foster procedure, to get the Tree Kangaroo joey to latch on to the new teat, ran smoothly and an anxious couple of days followed as zoo keepers closely monitored the wallaby to determine if the attempt was successful.
Adelaide Zoo Team Leader of Natives, Gayl Males, says tiny ripples of movement over the following days confirmed the joey was alive and thriving, tucked carefully away in its surrogate mother’s pouch.
“We were so excited when we confirmed the joey had made it past the first critical 24 hour period. We were uncertain as to whether the joey was going to be accepted. This joey was completely different from other joeys in body shape and behavior. It certainly wriggled around more than a wallaby joey!” Gayl said.
“The joey, which we named Makaia, first popped its head out of the pouch around the end of January. It was certainly a sight to see a Tree Kangaroo joey, with its reddish-tan fur, bright blue eyes and long claws riding around in a wallaby!”
“He stayed with his wallaby mum for about three and half months until I took over caring for him and in effect became his third mum. He’s certainly a cheeky little fellow and loves running amok, testing the boundaries, using my home as his personal playground, climbing on everything, pulling toilet paper off the rolls, but he also loves quiet time cuddling with my husband in the evening while we watch TV.”
“He truly is a special little guy and I am so pleased that Adelaide Zoo has the staff and expertise to successfully perform this world first cross-foster. Makaia is the result of all our hard work; we can’t wait to share his amazing story with the world!”
Makaia spends the day at the zoo and goes home with Gayl over evenings and on her days off. He will continue to be cared for full-time until he no longer requires overnight feeds and will be weaned at around 15-18 months old.
An education coordinator at Taronga Zoo in Australia has taken on the role of surrogate dad to an orphaned Swamp Wallaby joey, whose mother was struck by a car near Sydney. About 6 months old, the joey has been named ‘Alkira’, which means ‘sunshine’.
Matt Dea has been hand-raising the female joey for the past two weeks, carrying a makeshift pouch and waking up at 2 am for one of five daily bottle feedings.
“Caring for such a young joey is very involved and she hasn’t left my side. She comes home with me, she comes to the shops and she sleeps beside my desk at work each day,” said Dea.
A Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo joey is now peeking out of its mom’s pouch at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Emerson Children’s Zoo!
Photo Credits: Robin Winkelman
On February 1, the little male, named Rocket, was born the size of a lima bean. He immediately moved into his mother’s pouch to be nurtured and has since grown to be the size of a small cat.
Visitors who are patient may see Rocket climbing all the way out of the pouch, reaching for his mom’s food and beginning to explore his world. At about 10 months old, he will officially move out of the pouch, but will continue to nurse until he is at least 16 months old.
This is the fifth offspring for mother, Kasbeth, and father, Iri. The new baby is the fifth Tree Kangaroo ever to be born at the Saint Louis Zoo. Kasbeth and Iri were paired under the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Tree Kangaroos.
Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo is a small marsupial found only in the thick, mountainous forests of Papua New Guinea, an island just south of the equator, north of Australia. A relative of terrestrial kangaroos, the reddish-brown and cream colored Tree Kangaroo also retains the legendary ability to jump. The Tree Kangaroo can leap as far as 30 feet from a tree to the ground.
The Tree ‘Roo’ is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Numbers in the wild have declined significantly. Twenty years ago, the species was only classified as “Vulnerable”. Today, not only is their habitat facing destruction because of logging and exploration for minerals and oil, but the animals are also hunted by local people.
A seven-month-old Tammar Wallaby joey is one of the newest additions to the Lincoln Children's Zoo. Liv the Wallaby joey was found out of her mother's pouch one morning and was immediately rescued by zookeepers. Still being hand-raised, Liv is carried in a make-shift pouch to substitute the body warmth and shelter provided by a Wallaby mother's pouch.
"Lincoln Children's Zoo is one of the only zoos that has hand-raised this specific species of Wallaby in the United States," president & CEO, John Chapo said. "It's a time consuming effort. The zookeeepers were feeding her eight times a day, adjusting the formula to provide the accurate amount of fat content a mother would supply and getting it switched over to solid food."
"Normally Liv would be in her mother's pouch for nine months of her life, but we have experienced her growth and development one-on-one from the beginning," said Taylor Daniels, one of the zookeepers caring for Liv at Lincoln Children's Zoo. "Seeing Liv throughout all stages of her life and getting to know her personality has been incredible."
Wallabies and Kangaroos are Marsupials, but Wallabies are generally much smaller than Kangaroos. Tammar Wallabies are the smallest species of Wallaby. Lincoln Children's Zoo now has six Tammar Wallabies, including Liv, as well as two Bennett's wallabies.
Liv is still too young to join the zoo's other Wallabies, but zoo visitors will be able to see Liv when she begins making appearances on the Animal Encounter Stage in early July. Lincoln Children's Zoo's Animal Encounter Stage features different animals for children to interact with and discover first-hand every day.
A Swamp Wallaby who was rejected by her mother is being cared for by zoo keepers at Australia’s Taronga Zoo.
Photo Credit: Taronga Zoo The six-month-old female joey was found separated from her mother in the zoo’s Wallaby exhibit. Keepers’ attempts to reunite the joey, named Mirrawa, with her mother were unsuccessful, so they took on the job of caring for the joey.
Mirrawa is currently being fed milk developed specifically for Wallabies. She’s just beginning to chew on soft new growth leaves of a few native plants, such as bottlebrush.
Keepers will care for Mirrawa until she is about eight months old. At that time, she’ll be reintroduced to the exhibit, where she will live among the Wallaby group.
Swamp Wallabies are common in the forests and scrublands of easternmost Australia. They emerge at night to feed on a wide variety of plants.
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.
Photo credit: Roger Williams Park Zoo
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.
Meet Kimberely and Anneli, two orphaned Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos in the care of Margit Cianelli, one of only two people licensed to rescue and rehabilitate this lesser known Australian species. Both joeys are thriving under Margit's expert care but have tough stories.
Kimberely (the larger one) was found in a water stream after falling from the trees. Some local aboriginals swimming nearby pulled her out (saving her life) and attempted to reconnect her with her mother in the trees above. The mother however, did not show interest in the joey and hence Margit was given the joey to hand raise. Margit suspects that the mother rejected Kimberley because she is an extremely active joey and she may have been too much to deal with. It’s possible she was a first time mother.
Anneli the smaller of the two was found near a farm area motionless under a water pump. Clearly she had been separated by her mother for days as she was suffering physically being weak, malnourished and dehydrated. She was very light and when taken to the vet she was discovered to be suffering from pneumonia, septicemia and multiple infections. She was placed on an IV drip for seven days and against the odds she recovered and has transformed into a healthy young joey.
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Margit has cared for over 15 Tree Kangaroos joeys in the past and is seen as a pioneer in Tree Kangaroo rehabilitation. She often has the joeys for over a year as preparing them for return to the wild is a long process. They need to be taught how to climb (this includes daily exercise in the climbing yard), they get taught what foods are safe to eat (the spaghetti is a treat), they also are nurtured and encouraged to be confident upon release.
Tree Kangaroos are a highly territorial species and finding unoccupied space can be challenging. Initially when released Margit will put radio collars on her roos and allow them to return until they have found their own territory to ensure they survive during their first few weeks in the wild.
Both Australian species of Tree Kangaroo, the Lumholtz and Bennett's, are currently under threat due to habitat fragmentation from human encroachment, car accidents and dogs whose territory they pass through while looking for new homes.
Photo and Video Credits: Adam Cox, Wakaleo / Creatura Channel
An Endangered Matchie’s Tree Kangaroo has begun to peek out of its
mother’s pouch at Zoo Miami. Though
it is just now exposing itself, this joey is believed to have actually been
born approximately 5 months ago.
As with most marsupials, Tree Kangaroos are born in an almost embryonic
state after a pregnancy of about 44 days. The newborn is only the size of a
jelly bean and slowly crawls into the mother’s pouch where it locks onto a
nipple and then the majority of development takes place.
Now more fully formed, the little one is still hairless and while it peeks out of the pouch, it will stay confined there for the next several months, continuing to develop before venturing away from its mother. It will not be totally weaned until it is around a year old.
Photo Credit: Zoo Miami
Matchie’s tree kangaroos live at high elevations in the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea where they spend most of their time up in trees feeding on a variety of leaves, ferns, moss, and bark. They are believed to be solitary animals and the only strong social bond formed is between a mother and her offspring. Both Mom and joey will remain off exhibit for several weeks to allow for proper bonding and to help facilitate a smooth introduction for this wonderful new addition!