Taronga Zoo

Help Name Taronga Zoo’s Bilby Joey

Bilby Joey Health Check 1

Taronga Zoo is asking the public for help in naming one of its first-ever Bilby joeys!

Bilby Joey Health Check 5

Bilby Joey Health Check 6

Bilby Joey Health Check 4Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo (Images 1,2,3,4); Robert Dockerill (Images 5,6,7,8); Auspic (Image 9)

The Zoo announced the birth of the two joeys in December, capping off an exciting year that saw The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially open its new Bilby exhibit named in honor of their son, Prince George.

The Bilby youngsters had their first hands-on health check last week, with keepers confirming the pair are both female.

Taronga launched a public naming competition, a few days ago, for one of the two joeys on its Facebook and Instagram pages, calling for suggestions that reflect the joey’s native habitat. Keepers have already named one of the girls ‘Tanami’ after the Tanami Desert, which is home to fragmented populations of the Greater Bilby.

“We’ll be looking for a very Australian name, but not ‘Bruce’ or ‘Sheila’,” Bilby Keeper, Paul Davies said jokingly.

“It would be wonderful to find a name that reflects this beautiful Bilby’s natural habitat, which has sadly declined due to the introduction of farm animals and predators such as feral foxes and cats.”

Mr. Davies said the births have also helped build on the incredible exposure generated by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Taronga in April 2014.

“You could even say the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought us good luck, as it’s after their visit that we've been able to breed Bilbies for the very first time,” he said.

The Bilby (also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot) is a rabbit-like marsupial. It lives in deserts, dry forests, dry grasslands, and dry shrubby areas in Australia. The Bilby's pouch faces backwards. These big-eared, burrowing mammals are in danger of extinction.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Kissing Koalas at Taronga Zoo

Bai’yali & Holly 2

Two Koala joeys have become ‘tree-mates’ at Taronga Zoo, snacking, sniffing and snoozing side-by-side since moving away from their mothers.

Bai’yali & Holly 3

Bai’yali 3

Holly 9Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

‘Holly’ and ‘Bai’yali’ recently moved into a “koala crèche”, where the pair has been spotted munching on eucalyptus leaves together and even sharing an occasional nose-rub to the delight of zoo visitors.

“Koalas are known to have poor eyesight, so smelling and hearing is much more important. Nose touching is a Koala greeting and a way for Koalas to determine if they’re encountering a friend or foe,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

The pairing of one-year-old Holly (whose birthday is Christmas Day) and 15-month-old Bai’yali, is designed to replicate Koala behaviors in the wild. From 12 months onwards, Koala joeys leave their mothers to find their own home ranges.

“We crèche them together so they can grow up and learn natural social behaviors without feeling threatened by the adult Koalas. It’s also nice for the joeys to have a companion while they’re making the big transition away from their mothers,” said Laura.

Laura said the female joeys would remain together for at least another year if they continue to get along.

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UPDATE: Chloe the Wombat Walkin’ It Off

Chloe's morning rounds (10)

In October, ZooBorns introduced you to ‘Chloe’, the orphaned Wombat joey, at the Taronga Zoo. Chloe’s mother was struck by a car, and Taronga keeper, Evelyn Watson, became surrogate mom to the six-month-old joey. Evelyn carried Chloe everywhere, in a makeshift pouch, stopping work for feeding every few hours.

Chloe's morning rounds (5)

Chloe's morning rounds (8)

Chloe's morning rounds (11)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Chloe is, now, nine-months-old and out of the pouch. She has become Keeper Evelyn’s loyal companion and assistant during her morning rounds at the zoo.

The morning walks are part of the joey’s continuing development, as she prepares to take her next big step towards returning to the wild.

“It’s a natural behavior and something Chloe would be doing with her real mother if she’d survived. Wombats stay with their mothers for up to two years, walking by their side until they’re old enough to fend for themselves,” said Evelyn.

Now strong enough to walk and explore on her own, Chloe has begun learning the natural Wombat behaviors she’ll need to survive in the wild. Keepers have built the joey a special home in an off-exhibit area to encourage her to dig burrows and forage for her own food.

“She’s really learning how to be a Wombat. Her paws are already toughening up and she’s quite happy digging about on her own,” said Evelyn.

When ready, Chloe will be transferred to a Wombat ‘halfway house’, where she’ll learn how to care for herself, before being released back into the wild.

More great photos of Chloe below the fold!

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"Royal" Bilby Babies a Taronga Zoo First

Bilby Joeys_Photo by Robert Dockerill (15)

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of its first-ever Bilby joeys. The births cap off an exciting year that saw The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially open the zoo’s new Bilby exhibit named in honor of their son, Prince George.

Bilby Joeys_Photo by Robert Dockerill (4)
Bilby Joeys_Photo by Robert Dockerill (5)
Royal_Visit_2 Photo by AuspicPhoto Credit:  Auspic (4), Robert Dockerill (all others)

Two joeys were born about 10 weeks ago, but have only just begun to emerge from their underground nest alongside first-time mother, Yajala.

Yajala arrived from Monarto Zoo in 2013 and her successful pairing with Taronga’s resident male, also named George, is a triumph for the national breeding program for this threatened marsupial species.

“This breeding success will help us build on the incredible exposure of the visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George, which brought the message of Bilby conservation to the world,” said Taronga Zoo Director Cameron Kerr.

The Royal couple visited Taronga on April 20 for the dedication of the Prince George Bilby Exhibit, part of the Australian government’s official gift following his birth in mid-2013.

“I’d like to think there was a little Royal magic at work in the birth of these joeys. You could say the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought us good luck, as it’s after their visit that we’ve been able to breed Bilbies for the very first time,” said Bilby Keeper Paul Davies.

The gestation period for the bilby is only 14 days, one of the shortest of all mammals. Joeys are then carried in their mother’s pouch for about 75 days.

Davies said keepers had yet to determine the sex of the two joeys, who still spend much of their time underground in their home.

Bilbies once ranged over most of mainland Australia, but have suffered a catastrophic decline over the past 200 years due to introduced predators such as feral foxes and cats, competition with rabbits and habitat degradation.

Taronga has begun conservation partnerships with the Save the Bilby Fund and Australian Wildlife Conservancy to help protect Bilbies and their remaining habitat in the wild.

See more photos of the Bilby joeys below.

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Quokka Joey and Taronga Zoo Keeper Become Roomies

Quokka Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (3)

A Taronga Zoo keeper has begun the round-the-clock task of caring for a six-month-old Quokka, one of three joeys born at the Zoo this breeding season.

Quokka Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (9)

Quokka Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (11)

Quokka Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (12)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Keeper Bec Russell-Cook has spent the past week carrying a makeshift pouch and waking at 2am for one of five daily bottle feeds, as she helps with the female joey’s weaning process.

The joey, who Bec has named ‘Meeuk Mia’ or ‘Mia’ for short, will grow up to have an important role at Taronga’s Education Centre, meeting and helping children learn about the importance of looking after native wildlife.

Bec said the joey, whose name means “halo of the moon” in the language of the Noongar people from Western Australia, is already growing in confidence.

“She’s quite the little climber. She loves climbing on the other keepers’ shoulders and heads during morning tea and I even woke up one night to find her looking at me from atop a mountain of pillows next to my bed,” said Bec.

For now the joey’s diet consists of a special milk mixture and the occasional nibble of native grass and flowers, but she’ll be introduced to solid foods such as carrot in the next few weeks.

“The 2am bottle feeds are certainly the toughest, as Mia gets tired and falls asleep while she’s drinking,” said Bec.

Mia is the youngest of three Quokka joeys born at Taronga this year. The Zoo is part of a national breeding program, helping to establish an insurance population to safeguard the species into the future.

One of the smallest wallaby species in Australia, Quokkas are found in high numbers on RottnestIsland and in small populations in the south-west of Western Australia. With their geographical range being limited to this small area, the species has been classified as vulnerable.

“If a natural disaster or disease were to hit RottnestIsland it would be devasting for Quokkas, which is why an insurance population is so important,” said Bec.

Mia will continue to be nursed by Bec until the joey is old enough to join Taronga’s trio of hand-raised Quokkas, ‘Poppy Lou’, ‘Autumn’ and ‘Jarrah’, at the Education Centre. 

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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Ghost Bat Stories at Taronga Zoo

Ghost Bat Pup_Photo by Vanessa Stebbings (2)

Taronga Zoo, in Australia, is celebrating its first successful birth of a Ghost Bat pup in 15 years! 

Ghost Bat Pup_Photo by Vanessa Stebbings (1)

Ghost Bat Pup_Photo by Vanessa Stebbings (3)

Ghost Bat Pup_Photo by Vanessa Stebbings (4)Photo Credits: Vanessa Stebbings/ Taronga Zoo

Born last month, the pup is the first for Taronga’s new breeding pair, ‘Celeste’ and ‘Nocturne’. The birth is also an encouraging sign for the regional breeding program for this vulnerable species.

Despite the challenges of breeding Ghost Bats, keepers are pleased with the progress of the pup, which can already be spotted on display at the Zoo’s Australian Nightlife exhibit.

Keeper, Wendy Gleen, said it may be a little while until keepers can determine the sex of the pup, so they are yet to choose a name. “The pup has been clinging to its mother for warmth and security, clutching onto her neck with its back legs,” said Wendy.

Ghost Bats are Australia's largest microbat, and their only carnivorous bat, preying on large insects, frogs, birds, lizards and small mammals, including other bats. As predators, they are important in the control of rodents, especially house-mice. Their name comes from the beautiful ‘ghost-like’ appearance of their wings in the moonlight.

Populations are under threat in the wild due to the loss of feeding habitat and destruction of caves and old mine shafts. “Ghost Bats are particularly vulnerable to mining, which can threaten their maternity caves,” said Wendy.

Wendy also said the birth of the pup provides a great opportunity for visitors to see these stunning but elusive creatures up close. “Ghost Bats are difficult to spot in the wild, as they often live in complete darkness and hide in remote caves. They’ve got the most amazing facial structures and use echolocation to find their way in the dark. Our modern sonar systems could probably learn a thing or two from these bats’ natural talents,” she said.

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Zoo’s Keepers 'Dig' Chloe the Orphan Wombat

Chloe the Wombat (5) Photo by Paul Fahy

An orphaned Wombat Joey is receiving round-the-clock care at Taronga Zoo after its mother was struck by a car outside Sydney.

Chloe the Wombat (1)

Chloe the Wombat (4)

Chloe the Wombat (2) Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

Taronga Keeper, Evelyn Weston, has taken on the role of surrogate mother to the six-month-old joey, carrying a makeshift pouch and stopping work for bottle feeds every five hours.

The female joey was rescued by a wildlife carer, in June, after its mother was struck and killed on a road near Jenolan Caves.  Luckily, the joey, named ‘Chloe’ by the carer, was found still alive inside the pouch.

Chloe was brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital last week for ongoing care, and she’s been busy melting hearts among the Zoo’s keepers, who have been only too happy to help Evelyn with her mothering duties.

“My biggest problem is getting her back,” joked Evelyn. “She’s very affectionate and also a bit naughty. She loves chewing on shoes and if you walk away from her she chases after you like a rocket.”

Chloe will remain in Evelyn’s care for at least another two months, before moving to a temporary new home at Taronga’s Australian Walkabout. Keepers hope Chloe will be strong enough to return to the wild in about 18 months.

There are more amazing pics below the fold!

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Orphaned Wallaby Joey Finds a Home at Taronga Zoo

4 joey

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. 

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Photo credit: Taronga Zoo

See and read more after the fold.

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New Koala Joeys Emerging at Taronga Zoo

Bardin 5

Keepers at Taronga Zoo, in Australia, are celebrating the arrival of two new Koala joeys!

Ruby's Joey 5

Ruby's Joey 2

Ruby's Joey 7Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

A female joey has finally emerged from the pouch of first-time mother, Ruby. Born on Christmas Day, the joey was one month late in emerging, but she is quickly making up for lost time, exploring the world outside her mother’s pouch and tasting her first eucalyptus leaves.

Koala Keeper, Laura Jones, said, “She got off to a slightly slow start, but she’s healthy now and starting to mouth leaves. Ruby is also becoming more comfortable and relaxed as a mother, and her joey can often be seen snuggling in her belly when they are resting.”

The female joey is yet-to-be-named, but Taronga Zoo will soon be launching a naming competition for the new Koala through its social media pages.

Ruby isn’t the only new Koala mother at the zoo. Another member of the zoo’s Koala breeding group, River, also welcomed her first joey.

The male joey has been named ‘Bardin’ after the Aboriginal word for ‘ironbark’, one of the eucalyptus species favored by koalas. At 10 months old, Bardin is steadily gaining weight and growing in confidence.

Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this season. River’s older sister, Tilly, also welcomed a female joey named Bai’yali, earlier this year.

The reopening of Taronga’s Koala Encounter exhibit, at the zoo, has allowed visitors to become acquainted with the new joeys and their families. Here, they can learn more about one of Australia’s most iconic species and why its major threats are urban development and forestry in their natural habitat. 

See more photos of the joeys and their mothers below.

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Meet Enrique & Carlos the Squirrel Monkeys

10606485_783463211716572_8102452732487517742_nBorn in May only a week apart at the Taronga Zoo, Squirrel Monkeys Carlos and Enrique are starting to develop their own personalities and are becoming more independent every day. 

10580235_783463201716573_8046956776605471170_nPhoto Credit: Lisa Ridley

According to keepers, Enrique has more confidence than Carlos.  This adventurous little Monkey spends more and more time away from his mother, Ayaca, and spends less time riding on the backs of other females in the troop.

Enrique can often be heard vocalizing to others when he is high up in the trees.  Carlos, on the other hand, still chooses to ride around on his mother Llosa's back or be carried by the other females.

Just recently, keepers have been seeing the two little Monkeys playing together.  Though they are starting to nibble on cucumbers, grapes, and leaves, both youngsters still nurse from their mothers, and will continue to do so for several more months.

Squirrel Monkeys are native to Central and South America, where they spend their days in the forest canopy in troops as large as 500 individuals.