Matschie's tree kangaroo joey emerges from his mother's pouch
Matschie’s tree kangaroo joey emerges from his mother’s pouch. Photo courtesy San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo announced Tuesday that a Matschie’s tree kangaroo joey at the Safari Park has emerged from her mother’s pouch and started to explore her surrounding environment.

The yet unnamed joey’s mother, Polly, gave birth to her roughly seven months ago and she has been gestating in Polly’s pouch since then. Safari Park animal care staff have noticed the joey begin to investigate the environment outside her mother’s pouch and learn to climb.

“The joey, right now, cannot get enough things in her mouth,” Safari Park keeper Breanne Barney said. “She’s constantly trying to eat leaves, greens, various vegetables, corn — even chewing on moms’ ears, tail, hands and feet!”

The species first arrived at the Safari Park last year as part of a program to save threatened species from extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species lists the Matschie’s tree kangaroo as endangered, with fewer than 2,500 remaining in the wild due to hunting and habitat loss in its native Papua New Guinea.

“Polly is an excellent mother, and consistently grooming her little one,” Barney said. “Due to their small population numbers, this joey provides a spark of hope for the future of this species.”

The joey was about the size of a jelly bean at birth, according to the zoo. Joeys can stay in their mother’s pouch for as long as 10 months as they continues to nurse and develop. Even after being weaned at one year old, Polly’s joey will remain close to her for nearly two more years.

Safari Park visitors can spot Polly and her joey at the Walkabout Australia exhibit. Access to the exhibit is included with admission to the park.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.