An endangered Matchie’s tree kangaroo joey from New Guinea has begun to peek out of its mother’s pouch at Zoo Miami. It is still basically confined to the pouch where it will continue to develop for the next several months before venturing away from its mother. It will not be totally weaned until it is around a year old.
Though it is just now exposing itself on a regular basis, this joey was actually born October 14th, 2018. As with most marsupials, tree kangaroos are born in an almost embryonic state after a pregnancy of about 44 days. The newborn is only the size of a jelly bean and slowly crawls into the mother’s pouch where it locks onto a nipple and then the majority of development takes place. It takes several months before the joey actually sticks its head out of the pouch and is visible.
The mother, named Zayna, is 9½ years old and was born at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas and the almost 11 year old father, named Banyon, was born at the Bronx Zoo in New York. The sex of the offspring has not been determined but it will eventually become part of an international captive breeding program. Zoo Miami has been a long time contributor to Matchie’s tree kangaroo conservation efforts in the wilds of New Guinea. Though this is Zayna’s third baby, it is the ninth one born at Zoo Miami.
Matchie’s tree kangaroos live at high elevations in the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea where they spend most of their time up in trees feeding on a variety of leaves, ferns, moss, and bark. They are believed to be solitary animals and the only strong social bond formed is between a mother and her offspring. This new mother and her joey will be on exhibit at the Posner Australia Exhibit.