The world’s only successful breeding program for Yellow-bellied Gliders at Taronga Zoo has welcomed a very special little joey.
The male joey is the 15th born at Taronga and the first for mother ‘Shy’, an orphan that was rescued from the pouch after her mother was found caught in a barbed wire fence.
“Shy was hand-raised by a wildlife carer at Cessnock before finding a home at Taronga. This makes her first joey extra precious, as it shows hand-raising is not a barrier to successful breeding with Yellow-bellied Gliders,” said Keeper, Wendy Gleen.
At four months of age, the joey recently left its mother’s pouch but continues to spend its time nestled safely in its parents’ nesting hollow.
“He should start to venture out on his own shortly. He’s looking very healthy and he’s inherited mum’s distinctive dark splotches on the side of his nose,” said Wendy.
Also known as the Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Gliders have remarkably soft fur and can glide up to 140 metres in a single leap. Listed as a vulnerable species due largely to habitat loss, these remarkable marsupials can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, such as Bouddi National Park.
Taronga has joined forces with 160 school students from the Central Coast to help protect gliders and their habitat with the launch of Project Yellow-bellied Glider 2015. The students will learn about the Yellow-bellied Glider and how they can make a real difference to the current decline of the species.
The students were also asked to select a name for Taronga’s newest joey, with keepers choosing ‘Banjo’ at the suggestion of students from Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, Kincumber.
Wendy said others can help ensure a future for Yellow-bellied Gliders by planting native trees and shrubs to create wildlife corridors and protecting mature trees.
“The biggest problem for the gliders is local bushland being broken up by development along the eastern seaboard where they’re found. It takes 120 years for a mature tree to provide a nesting hollow, so they are irreplaceable in our lifetime and we’ve lost so many in recent years” she said.