Surprise glider

Surprise glider

Taronga’s Australian Nightlife Keepers got a surprise during a Yellow-bellied Glider’s routine check-up when

Zoo vets noticed that the female was carrying a tiny joey in her pouch!

This was fantastic news for the

Zoo’s breeding program, being the first ofspring for female, Barby, and male,

Merim, which have been paired for over 12 months.

Taronga is the only zoo in

Australia to have successful bred this remarkable gliding possum for many years

and while they can be found less than 

two hours’ drive from Sydney, these animals have suffered greatly from

urbanisation as old growth trees are cut down. Gliders need mature trees for

their nest hollows and when they lose their habitat they become more visible to

predators such as foxes.

In mid-August zookeeper Robert

peered into the nest box at a special behind-the-scenes breeding area and

spotted the joey for the first time out of its mother’s pouch. Robert said the youngster

was curled up between the adults and was almost completely camouflaged by the

mass of brown fur at the bottom of the nest. The youngster will remain in the

security and warmth of its parents’ nest box for another six to eight weeks.

This is Taronga’s fifth  joey born since 2008. Adults  Bailey and Boydie which live at the Zoo’s

Nocturnal House produced two sets of twins about a year apart. According to

keepers, it’s exceptionally rare for Yellow –bellied Gliders to produce twins

and extraordinary that a year later another set was born!

For keen bush walkers, keep your

eyes peeled in western Sydney’s bushland. While Yellow-bellied Gliders are

active at night, evidence of their territories is easy to identify as they

leave distinctive ‘v’ shaped marks on eucalyptus trees using their teeth to

collect the sap.