Taronga’s cheeky Tree Kangaroo joey, Nupela, hopped on the scales this week to mark her first 12 months – weighing in at an impressive 3.8 kilograms.
The first Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo joey born at the Zoo in more than 20 years, Nupela has doubled in size since she left mother, Kwikila’s, pouch three months ago.
Keepers started doing weekly weigh-ins in June, training the joey to follow a target and step onto the scales to allow them to check she is healthy and developing well.
“She’s been growing rapidly and eating incredibly well, putting on about 10 percent of her body weight each week. Her favourite foods are corn, grapes and beetroot and she’s just starting eating eggs. She’s also fond of banana, but just the skin,” said Keeper, Sam Bennett.
The joey was born on 4 September last year, but keepers only began seeing her tiny head peeking out from first-time mother, Kwikila’s, pouch in March.
Kwikila arrived from Belfast Zoo in January 2013 and her successful pairing with Taronga’s resident male, Parum, was a triumph not only for the Zoo but also the global breeding program for the endangered species.
Following a public naming contest, the joey was named, Nupela, meaning ‘New’ in Papua New Guinea’s Tok Pisin language.
Nupela has since become a favourite with visitors, often attracting crowds of photographers around her exhibit just below the Zoo’s main entrance.
“She’s naturally very curious and confident and has started to become quite cheeky, often wrestling with her mum and then dashing off up into the trees. I think a lot more people now know what a Tree Kangaroo is, which is wonderful,” said Sam.
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.