Taronga Zoo

Glider Joey Gets Special Care at Taronga Zoo

YBG Joey 1_Photo by Paul Fahy

A tiny Yellow-bellied Glider joey has found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo, after the joey and her mother survived a collision with a barbed-wire fence.

Taronga vet nurse, Felicity Evans, has been providing round-the-clock care to the female joey, carrying a makeshift pouch and feeding her six times a day from a dessert spoon.

“She gets really excited about food and can be quite a messy eater. She’ll grab hold of the spoon and pull it down so she ends up with milk all over her paws and stomach. I have to carefully clean her fur afterwards and wipe off her little milk moustache,” said Felicity.

YBG Joey 2_Photo by Paul Fahy

YBG Joey 3_Photo by Paul Fahy

YBG Joey 4_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo


The 10-week-old Glider and her mother arrived at Taronga Wildlife Hospital in early July after being rescued by WIRES wildlife carers on the Central Coast.

The mother was found with a series of injuries, including a major tear in her gliding membrane (the joey still inside her pouch), after becoming entangled in a barbed-wire fence. She had also stopped producing milk, forcing hospital staff to step in to care for the joey.

The yet-to-be-named joey has since made a remarkable recovery in Felicity’s care, growing from 48 grams to 80 grams in two weeks.

“She’s got a big personality for such a tiny animal. She climbs all over me and is very vocal if I have to wake her up for a feed. She doesn’t like being interrupted during sleep,” said Felicity.

The joey will remain in Felicity’s care for another few months, as she grows and gradually transitions to eating a special Glider mix and solid foods, such as fruit and fly pupae. The joey’s mother is also on the mend at Taronga Wildlife Hospital, where she continues to receive antibiotics and treatment for her wounds.

“Mum is eating well and healing nicely. Her range of movement is restricted, but she’s working out what she can and can’t do and getting better with practice,” said Felicity.

Unable to be released due to the extent of her injuries, the mother will remain in care at Taronga where she will become an important ambassador for her species.

Also known as the Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Gliders have remarkably soft fur and can glide up to 140 metres in a single leap. Listed as a vulnerable species due to habitat loss, they can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, such as Bouddi National Park.

More adorable pics, below the fold! 

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New Joey ‘Gliding’ Into Hearts at Taronga Zoo

1_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (4)

He may be small enough to climb along a keeper’s arm, but Taronga Zoo’s newest Yellow-bellied Glider joey is preparing to play a big role in protecting his vulnerable species.

The joey is the 16th born at Taronga, which has the world’s only successful breeding program for Yellow-bellied Gliders.

At five months of age, the joey recently left his mother’s pouch and will soon meet students taking part in Taronga’s Project Yellow-bellied Glider.

“He’s going to become our newest Yellow-bellied Glider ambassador, which is a very important role,” said Keeper, Wendy Gleen.

Also known as the Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Gliders have remarkably soft fur and can glide up to 140 metres in a single leap. Listed as a vulnerable species, in Australia, due to habitat loss, these marsupials can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, Australia, such as Bouddi National Park.

Taronga Zoo, in New South Wales, Australia, has joined forces with more than 160 school students from the Central Coast to help protect Gliders and their habitat through Project Yellow-bellied Glider. The project will see students become Yellow-bellied Glider guardians, habitat experts, and active participants in the development of wildlife corridors.

The students have also helped select a name for Taronga’s newest joey, with keepers choosing ‘Jiemba’, at the suggestion of students from St Joseph’s Catholic College at East Gosford. The name means “laughing star” in the language of the Wiradjuri people of central NSW.

2_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (24)

3_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (1)

4_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (5)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Keepers are hoping that Jiemba will prove his star power when he meets the students during a visit to Taronga in August. Keepers have been helping to feed and care for the joey in recent weeks to assist with his weaning process and ensure he is comfortable around people.

“An encounter with a little Glider like Jiemba can help people form an emotional connection with Yellow-bellied Gliders and inspire them to take action to protect gliders in the wild,” said Wendy.

Wendy said people could help ensure a future for Yellow-bellied Gliders, in the wild, by protecting mature trees and planting native trees and shrubs to create wildlife corridors.

“The biggest problem for these Gliders is local bushland being broken up by development along the eastern seaboard where they’re found. It takes 120 years for mature trees to produce nesting hollows, so they are irreplaceable in our lifetime,” she said.

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Wallaby Joey Surprises Taronga Zoo Keepers

1_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (16)

Keepers at Taronga Zoo are celebrating the unexpected birth of an endangered Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby – more than a year after its father left the Zoo!

The joey recently started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch to the surprise of keepers and delight of keen-eyed visitors.

“We weren’t planning for another joey, so it was quite a shock when we started seeing something moving inside the pouch,” said Keeper, Tony Britt-Lewis.

2_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (8)

3_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (9)

4_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (10)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo


The birth is the result of a phenomenon known as embryonic diapause, which enables certain mammals to extend their gestation period and time the birth of their young.

The reproductive strategy, which is used by a number of marsupial species (including: Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wombats), usually occurs when adverse environmental conditions threaten the survival of the mother and her newborn.

“It’s an interesting survival mechanism that allows the mother to delay the development of the embryo in drought conditions or if she already has a joey in the pouch,” said Tony.

Experienced mother Mica was carrying another joey in her pouch up until August last year, some five months after the only resident male, Sam, had moved to another wildlife park. Keepers suspect that Mica mated with Sam soon after giving birth to the joey growing in her pouch, and the resulting embryo stayed dormant while her pouch was occupied.

Tony said keepers are yet to determine the sex of the surprise joey, but it appears to be very healthy and about six months of age.

“Mica is a confident and attentive mum and her joey looks to be very strong. It shouldn’t be long before we start to see it venturing out of the pouch to take its first wobbly steps,” he said.

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Orphaned Possum Brothers Find New Mother

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Two orphaned Ringtail Possums have found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo.

Taronga staffer, Di Scott, is providing round-the-clock care to the twin brothers, carrying a makeshift pouch and waking at 3am to feed and toilet the joeys.

The four-month-old Possums, nicknamed ‘Ernie’ and ‘Bert’, arrived at Taronga Wildlife Hospital with their mother last week. Their mother was left paralyzed after a suspected collision with a car at Northbridge and sadly didn’t survive.

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4_Possum Twins (2)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo


The twins were losing weight rapidly on arrival but have since made a remarkable recovery in Di’s care.

“It was really hard to tell them apart when they arrived, so the hospital staff put a spot of nail polish on one their toes to help with identification,” said Di.

“They’ve actually got quite distinct little personalities. Ernie is bouncy and boisterous, while Bert is quiet and shy in comparison.”

The Possums are learning to lap a special milk mixture from a dish and starting to nibble on solid foods, such as leaves and native flowers.

“I can hear them munching away on the flowers in the middle of the night. Their favorite is bottlebrush and they fight over the same part of the flower-- like true brothers,” said Di.

The twins will remain in Di’s care until they are ready to feed themselves. They’ll then stay at Taronga Wildlife Hospital until they are old enough to begin a soft release program, where they’ll be transferred to a specialized wildlife carer and ultimately released back into the wild.

Di said the Possums’ story should serve as a reminder to watch out for wildlife on the road, as native animals are often hit by cars.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital cares for and treats about 1,000 injured or orphaned native animals every year, including Wombats, Wallabies, Possums, Echidnas, birds and Sea Turtles.

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Taronga Zoo’s Meerkat Pups Given Names


The two-month-old Meerkat pups at Taronga Zoo were recently given names to reflect their African heritage. Meet ‘Lwazi’ and his sister ‘Serati’! The playful siblings were born January 7 to first-time mom, Nairobi, and dad, Maputo.

The Zoo has been celebrating this birth of its first Meerkat pups in nearly seven years. Check out our earlier article that introduced the pair: "Meerkat Pups Go Exploring at Taronga Zoo"



4_TarongaZooTwo-month-oldMeerkatsPhoto Credits: Rick Stevens

“They may be young, but they’re already showing signs of their own little personalities. Our male is the bigger of the two and he’s more adventurous and inquisitive, while the female is quieter and prefers to stay close to mum,” said Keeper, Courtney Mahony.

“This is all new for them and they learn by observing their mum and dad, so we’re very lucky that Nairobi and Maputo are proving to be fantastic and attentive first-time parents. Nairobi is letting the pups suckle and grooming them at the right times and Maputo protects them, huddles over them and curls up with them at night.”

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.

Meerkat Pups Go Exploring At Taronga Zoo

Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (5)
Two Meerkat pups born January 7 at Australia’s Taronga Zoo are already practicing the skills they’ll need as adults. 

Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (9)
Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (15)Photo Credit:  Paul Fahy

The pups, which are the first to be born at Taronga Zoo in nearly seven years, have just started venturing out of their nest box.  At less than one month old, they’re already eating solid food like mealworms and insect larvae.  The pups are also practicing to be sentries by standing on their hind legs.  Meerkats take turns standing as sentries to protect their social group from predators and other threats.

Keepers think that the pups are a male and a female, but the genders will be confirmed later this month when they have their first vaccinations and veterinary exam.   Keepers perform quick health checks and weigh-ins regularly to ensure that the pups are healthy and comfortable in the presence of keepers.

As with all Meerkat young, the yet-to-be named pups are developing very quickly. Despite only weighing less than an ounce at birth, they now weigh more than a quarter of a pound.  

Meerkats are native to southern Africa, where they inhabit arid locales such as the Kalahari and Namib Deserts.  Living in clans of about 20 individuals, Meerkats construct large networks of underground burrows.  Aside from acting as sentries, they exhibit other social behaviors such as babysitting and protecting young of other group members.  Meerkats are not under significant threat and are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Meerkat pups below.

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Cheetah Cub Gets A Helping Hand

A Cheetah cub born October 17 at Australia’s Taronga Zoo is being hand-raised after she was rejected by her mother.

IMG_6161Photo Credit:  Taronga Zoo

The female cub was one of two born to first-time mother Kyan. Sadly, the other cub was stillborn.

Because singleton cubs are often rejected by their mothers, keepers monitored the mother and cub closely. When they noticed Kyan’s attention to the cub decreasing, especially when feeding, the staff decided to intervene to give the cub the best chance of survival.

The little Cheetah is now receiving round-the-clock care, with a team of keepers staying overnight and feeding her five times a day.

So far, the cub is developing well, growing in strength, and starting to chase balls and stalk play toys. She weighed just under four pounds at her most recent health check, a promising result for the team who is helping to raise the cub.

Though Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals, they cannot escape the effects of human encroachment on their wild habitats.  With only 10,000 remaining in the wilds of southern Africa, Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Bright Orange Leaf Monkey Born at Taronga

Baby Langur (55)

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of a bright orange Francois’ Langur, one of the world’s rarest monkeys.

The male infant, whom keepers have named ‘Nangua’ after the Mandarin word for pumpkin, was discovered cradled in mother Meili’s arms on 7 November.

Also known as Francois’ leaf monkeys, Langurs are born with bright orange hair while their parents are black in color. It is thought this color distinction makes it easier for adults to identify and look after infants.

Baby Langur (39)

Baby Langur (20)

Baby Langur (23)

Baby Langur (3)


Senior Primate Keeper, Jane Marshall said Nangua was already receiving lots of attention from his mother and the harem group’s other females, Noel and Elke.

“Meili has shown her calmness and experience since the birth, cradling and protecting the baby, but also allowing Noel and Elke to get close to him,” said Jane.

Francois’ Langurs practice allomothering or ‘auntying’, in which other females participate in raising the baby. Infants can often be seen being passed around as each of the Langurs take turns caring for their newest addition.

“Noel has taken on the role of allomother, carrying the baby about 50 percent of the time. This gives mum a break to eat and rest, but as soon as the baby whimpers she races straight back over to him,” said Jane.

Nangua has begun to explore his exhibit on Taronga’s Rainforest Trail to the delight of keen-eyed visitors.

Once widespread in China and Vietnam, Francois’ Langurs have become one of the world’s rarest monkeys due to habitat loss and poaching for traditional medicines. Taronga is the only zoo in Australia to care for these primates, but is working with other zoos globally to help ensure a future for the species.

Injured Plover Receives Care at Taronga Zoo

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A young Plover named Grover was found injured and alone on the side of a busy road and brought to the Wildlife Hospital at Taronga Zoo, in Sydney, Australia, when she was just a week old. The little ball of fluff is now being hand raised by Bird Keeper Grey who says she's growing by the day!

2_Grover the Plover_TarongaPhoto Credits: Taronga Zoo

Plovers are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae. The Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) is a large and conspicuous bird species native to northern and eastern Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea. They are also known as: Masked Plover, Spur-winged Plover, or simply—Plover.

They spend most of their time on the ground searching for insects and worms. They are shy and harmless, but have nesting habits that cause distress in urban areas. They will build their nests on almost any stretch of open ground, including: parks, gardens, school grounds, parking lots or rooftops. They have also proven intrusive at airports, where bird strikes have occurred.

Commonly, two birds are seen together, nearly identical male and female. They can also be seen in groups during feedings. Chicks reach full growth at about four to five months and will stay with the parents for up to two years.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Wildlife Hospitals at Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos care for around 1,500 native animals each year. The animals are brought to the hospitals by members of the community, after being found sick, injured or orphaned.

The main aim of the Wildlife Hospitals at Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos is to rehabilitate as many native animals as possible for release back to the wild.

The variety of animals treated is enormous, ranging from stranded seals and orphaned baby bats, to pelicans tangled in fishing line.

All the animals need, and are provided with, professional care and attention during the treatment and rehabilitation process to ensure they can be returned to their natural environment.

The hospitals at both Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos provide a high standard of veterinary expertise in the care of native animals and have well-equipped, modern veterinary facilities.

When an animal is brought to one of the two hospitals, the details are recorded on a hospital record sheet. A veterinarian examines the animal, and a prognosis made. The treatment details and the animal's progress are recorded on its hospital record sheet throughout the rehabilitation process. Whenever possible the rescuer is involved in the eventual release of the animal.

Prior to release, most animals are given a permanent and unique identifier, such as ear tags for possums and leg bands for birds and bats. If the animal is recaptured at a later date, details about its health, movements and post-release behavior can be recorded.

Some animals arrive as orphans and require hand-rearing by Zoo staff, or may have an injury, which makes them unsuitable for release. These animals may be kept for breeding or education purposes at Taronga or Taronga Western Plains Zoos.

Koala Joeys Emerge for Spring at Taronga Zoo

1_Baxter_Photo by Paul Fahy (4)

Spring, in Australia, has heralded the arrival of more tiny paws at Taronga Zoo, with two new Koala joeys emerging from the pouch to the delight of keepers and visitors.

2_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (3)

3_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (1)

4_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (2)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Koala Joey 'TJ': images 2,3,4,5,7,12 / Koala 'Baxter': images 1,6,8,9,10,11)

A male joey has appeared just in time to catch the warmer weather. The seven-month-old, who keepers have named TJ, is the first joey for mother Sydney.

“We’ve been seeing arms and legs and even a little pair of eyes peeking out from Sydney’s pouch in recent weeks, but he wasn’t ready to venture outside until this week,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

Sydney isn’t the only first-time mother at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, with neighbor Mallee also welcoming her first joey.

The male joey has been named Baxter, after a stringybark species called Eucalyptus Baxteri, and he’s already developing a taste for leaves.

“Baxter is chomping on leaves like a champion. He’s obviously still suckling from mum, but he’ll become more and more independent over the coming months,” said Laura.

“He loves climbing up near Mallee’s head to look around and I saw him step off on his own for the first time this week. He only lasted a few seconds before returning to mum, but he looked quite pleased with himself.”

Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this season, with experienced mother, Wanda, welcoming a female joey in June.

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