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.
See more photos of the Kangaroo joeys below.