Healesville Sanctuary's newest Tree Kangaroo joey has decided to start peeping out of the pouch to observe the world for the very first time.
The little one with big blue eyes, just like her mother and father, has been named Ori [Pronounced: Or-ree], which means cloud in a region of Papua New Guinea where the Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo species lives.
It’s spring in Australia, and the Healesville Sanctuary finally got a look at a baby Koala that is just beginning to explore outside of mom’s pouch.
Photo Credit: Healesville Sanctuary
Born the size of a jelly bean to first-time parents Hazel and Noojee, the unnamed male joey has spent the past six months growing in Hazel’s pouch.
“When he was first born, he was pink, hairless and tiny,” said Koala Keeper Kristy Eriksen.
“We watched him make his way from the birth canal to the pouch completely unaided, relying on his already well-developed senses of smell and touch and an innate sense of direction,” Eriksen said.
The joey recently began exploring more and more, with his confidence growing each time he ventures out of Hazel’s pouch. Soon he will be riding on Hazel’s back and will eventually graduate to climbing trees all on his own - under mom’s watchful eye, of course.
Koalas are marsupials, a group of mammals that give birth to highly underdeveloped young. The newborn crawls on its own from the birth canal into a pouch on the mother’s body. Inside the pouch, the tiny infant, called a joey, attaches to a teat where it nurses and completes its development. After a few months, the joey begins to peek out of the pouch. Even after emerging completely from the pouch, a joey will seek refuge there, even when it can barely fit inside.
Despite being Australia’s most iconic animal, Koalas are under significant threat due to habitat destruction and fragmentation for agricultural and urban development. Koalas are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Don't miss more photos of Hazel and her joey below!
Healesville Sanctuary, in Victoria, Australia, is celebrating the birth of an endangered Goodfellow’s Tree-kangaroo - the first ever to be born at the Sanctuary.
New mum, Mani, and her breeding partner, Bagam, were successfully paired at the beginning of 2016. Earlier this year, after a routine pouch check, keepers discovered Mani had a tiny joey, the size of a jellybean, growing in her pouch.
The joey spent six months inside its mum’s pouch before tentatively popping its head out for the first time on a recent chilly winter’s morning. Over the coming months, the youngster will continue to venture out of the pouch more and more. It will become more independent as it learns from mum and dad.
Photo Credits: Zoos Victoria /Healesville Sanctuary
Tree-kangaroos are threatened in the wild by hunting and habitat loss. In response, Zoos Victoria has extended its fighting extinction work across borders, partnering with organizations across the globe on the Tree-kangaroo Conservation Program to save species from extinction.
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.