"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.

Continue reading ""Royal" Bilby Babies a Taronga Zoo First" »

Waffles the Wallaby Comforts Kids

Animals can bring smiles and laughter to everyone, but they make special connections with children.  That was the idea when Zoos Victoria's Healesville Sanctuary sent Waffles the Wallaby to the Monash Children's Hospital.  Waffles shared a special moment with William, then went on to spread cheer to the entire ward.

Studies show that visits from animals like Waffles the Wallaby can make a positive difference for children in traumatic situations.  They provide a comforting presence, resulting in both psychological and physical benefits. 

Zoos Victoria includes the Melbourne Zoo, the Werribee Open Range Zoo, and Healesville Sanctuary, which features native Australian wildlife.  All three facilities are located in and around Melbourne, Australia. 

Photo Credit:  Alex Coppell/Herald Sun



Orphan Opossum Finds a Home at Northwest Trek

Baby Opossum Close-up at Northwest Trek

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, Washington recently welcomed a rescued baby Virginia Opossum. Hand-raised, the tame animal will join the park's Animal Trailside Encounters team, which allows visitors to get up close and personal with local wildlife handled by a trained keeper. 

The Virginia Opossum is the only North American marsupial that lives north of Mexico. When frightened, these animals often pretend to be dead (i.e. playing possum) so curious predators lose interest in them. While this defense mechanism seems to be involuntary, don't be fooled into thinking Virginia Opossums are defenseless: they can also be quite feisty when cornered!

Baby Opossum at Northwest Trek 2

Baby Opossum at Northwest Trek 1

What's a Feathertail Glider?


Meet one of Taronga Zoo's tiniest new arrivals. It’s hard to believe that this Feathertail Glider is too big for its mom’s pouch. It moved into the nest box about a week ago with its siblings. Australian Feather-tail Gliders are the world’s smallest gliding mammals. Thanks to their special gliding membrane, Feather-tails can glide for up to 20 meters. Their feathered tail (which is – Surprise! – where their name comes from) also acts as a rudder when they fly, thus helping the Gliders to steer. Although one of the lesser known Australian animals, the Feather-tail Glider used to feature on Australia's one-cent coin before it was taken out of circulation.


Photo credit: Robert Dockerill

Meet Swiss, a Little Ringtail Possum on the Mend

Baby Ringtail Possum - Swiss - Taronga Zoo

Meet Swiss, a tiny Ringtail Possum orphan being looked after by her new surrogate mum and elephant Keeper Bobby-Jo at Australia's Taronga Zoo. Swiss and her sister Miss both came in to care after a good Samaritan found them. Vets at Taronga’s Wildlife Hospital think Swiss fractured her wrist when her mother died, but with a tiny splint on her wrist, the two are doing well in Bobby-Jo’s care. Follow Swiss and other Taronga Zoo critters on their Facebook page.

In the wild, Ringtail Possums live in communal nests where they sleep by day and socialize by night.

Bronx Zoo Tree Kangaroo Still Needs Mom

Cuter than ever, the pink bundle of "Joey" we brought you in late December is almost all grown up now, although Mom's pouch is never far afield. 


The Bronx Zoo's Tree Kangaroo Joey can be seen exploring his exhibit on his own, as well as darting back to Mom's pouch for a snooze. This exhibit is one of the highlights at the Zoo's "Jungleword" attraction which offers year round access to tropical creatures including otters, gibbons, and a tapir.



Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Continue reading "Bronx Zoo Tree Kangaroo Still Needs Mom" »

Wallaby Joeys at the Kangaroo Conservation Center

Meet the Kangaroo Conservation Center's most recent arrivals: Soleil, Oliver and an as of yet to be named little joey born to mama Bindi. These are Agile Wallabies, Northern Australian and Indonesian marsupials related to their better known cousins, red and grey kangaroos. All three of these babies were born in the summer of 2008, but have been hidden in pouches for most of that time. For the incubator babies, a cloth pouch was provided.

Soleil and Oliver have a close bond
Agile wallaby joeys

A warm home
Wallaby in incubator

What do you think this baby Joey's name should be?
Baby wallaby joey kangaroo conservation center

Agile Wallabies are rarely exhibited in the States and the Kangaroo Conservation Center has the largest collection. 

Baby Tree Kangaroo Plays Peekaboo

My wife and I visited the Bronx Zoo during a recent snow storm and, to our delight, we had the place to ourselves. We spent a long time watching a mama tree kangaroo busy protecting her joey snuggled safely in pouch. While the baby kangaroo didn't emerge that day, we are delighted to share these new pictures of him and his proud mom courtesy of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Cute baby joey tree kangaroo

Check out mom's claws!

Matschie's Tree-kangaroo lives in the mountainous rainforests at high elevations, living alone or in very small groups, usually comprising just a mother, joey and a male. They spend most of their time in the trees and come down occasionally to feed. Like all kangaroos, they are are quite the hoppers and can leap up to 30 feet (9 m).

Close up cute baby joey tree kangaroo

Tree kangaroo with baby kangaroo joey

A photo of mom and another baby born earlier this year.

Photos by: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS