Earlier this month, at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this tiny red kangaroo was accidentally ejected from her Mom's pouch. Caregivers at the Zoo have fashioned a fleece "pouch" and are administering a solution which mimics Mom's milk. It was impossible to determine which of the female's had lost her joey, without causing stress to the animals. With the help of the Zoo's staff, this baby Kangaroo will bounce back!
ALIEN-LIKE CREATURE KEPT ALIVE AT THE ASSINIBOINE PARK ZOO HOSPITAL
The Zoo Hospital staff is hopping-busy these days keeping alive one of Nature’s most bizarre-looking creatures -- a baby Red Kangaroo. The four-month-old female joey, weighing only 560 grams, was found lying helpless on the floor of the enclosure after being ejected from the pouch of one of the adult females.
Baby kangaroos seldom survive out of the pouch at this early age, since they are dependant on their mother’s milk inside the pouch for up to a year. With feedings of milk formula every three hours, around the clock, the baby’s chances of survival are improving every day. She spends most of the time sleeping soundly, nestled in a soft towel within a cloth bag, which substitutes for her mother’s pouch. If the youngster makes it through these precarious early weeks, she will need zookeeper care for another eight months, until she can be reunited with “the mob” – the name given to a group of kangaroos.
Like other marsupial mammals, baby kangaroos are born at a remarkably early stage of development – after a gestation period of only 33 days and just 2.5-cm long and weighing less than one gram. This blind and naked baby must then climb unassisted all the way from the mother’s birth canal to the abdominal pouch, crawl inside, and find a nipple, to which it remains attached for over 70 days.
The Red Kangaroo is the largest living marsupial, with males standing up to 2.1 metres (7 feet) high and reaching 95 kg (210 lbs) – a 135,715-fold increase in body weight from birth. The female is considerably smaller, averaging 30 kg. Under good habitat conditions, a female may breed continuously, with one embryo in a resting stage in the womb, one joey in the pouch, and a dependant joey living outside the pouch.
This species may live up to 25 years and makes a fascinating zoo exhibit due to its unusual appearance and bounding gait on its powerful hind legs. The Red Kangaroo is native to most of Australia, where it fulfills the role of a major herbivore, which sometimes places it in conflict with sheep and cattle ranchers.