Taronga Zoo is celebrating the successful birth of its first Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo joey in more than 20 years.
The female joey was born in September last year, but keepers have only just begun seeing her tiny head peeking out from first-time mother, Kwikila’s, pouch.
Kwikila arrived from Belfast Zoo in January 2013 and her successful pairing with Taronga’s resident male, Parum, is a triumph not only for the Zoo but also the global breeding program for this endangered species.
Native to Papua New Guinea, Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos are classified as endangered, with numbers in the wild decreasing due to habitat loss and encroaching human activity.
Thrilled keepers have been observing the joey’s daily progress, as it emerges each morning at feeding time in the lush exhibit just below Taronga’s main entrance.
“Keen-eyed visitors will also be able to spot the joey when it pokes its head out of its mother’s pouch during the day. Guests at the top cafe get a great view of Kwikila, as she loves hanging out high in the trees and is not shy about showing off her little one to the public,” said Keeper, Sam Bennett.
Taronga will shortly announce a public naming competition for the as yet unnamed joey on social media, encouraging people to get involved and learn more about this rare and fascinating species.
Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroos are mostly brown in colour with golden yellow limbs and a long mottled golden yellow and brown tail. The colours may help them blend in with decaying vines and mosses at the top of trees.
Unlike their grounded cousins, tree kangaroos are able to walk backwards – an essential skill when negotiating branches – and have specially-adapted pads on their feet and hands to help with climbing.
There are 46 Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos in the global breeding program of which only 13 are male. Global zoos are coordinating the breeding program together and each male is placed with at least two females to optimise breeding success.