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.