Taronga Zoo is asking the public for help in naming its first-ever Bilby joeys.
The Zoo announced the birth of the two joeys in December, capping off an exciting year that saw The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially open its new Bilby exhibit named in honour of their son, Prince George.
The youngsters had their first hands-on health check last week, with keepers confirming the pair are both female.
Taronga will today launch a public naming competition for one of the two joeys on its Facebook and Instagram pages, calling for suggestions that reflect the joey’s native habitat.
“We’ll be looking for a very Australian name, but not ‘Bruce’ or ‘Sheila’,” joked Bilby Keeper, Paul Davies.
“It would be wonderful to find a name that reflects this beautiful Bilby’s natural habitat, which has sadly declined due to the introduction of farm animals and predators such as feral foxes and cats.”
Keepers have named the first of the two joeys ‘Tanami’ after the Tanami Desert, which is home to fragmented populations of the Greater Bilby.
Mr Davies said the joeys continued to grow in confidence and could often be spotted exploring and burrowing in their exhibit alongside first-time mother, Yajala.
Yajala arrived from Monarto Zoo in 2013 and her successful pairing with Taronga’s resident male, George, proved a triumph for the national breeding program for this threatened species.
Mr Davies said the births have also helped build on the incredible exposure generated by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Taronga in April 2014.
“You could even 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,” he said.
Bilbies once ranged over most of mainland Australia, but have suffered a catastrophic decline over the past 200 years due to introduced predators 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.