Joey joy: Melbourne Zoo welcomes new kangaroo

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It may not yet be old enough to hop, skip or jump, but an adorable new resident at Melbourne Zoo is quickly winning over the hearts of anyone lucky enough to catch a glimpse.

The Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Kangaroo Island joey to first-time parents, Fern and Moe, with the little one just starting to poke its head out of the pouch.   

Melbourne Zoo Australia bush keeper Kody Davidson said both mum and joey were healthy.

“They’re both eating and drinking really well, which is exactly what we want to see in a baby ‘roo and a new mum,” Mr Davidson said.

“Our vets perform regular health checks during the pregnancy and infancy period to make sure they are both maintaining their weight and have a variety in their diet, ensuring the joey receives the optimal nutrients it will need to grow nice and strong.”

“It’s been incredible to witness this process. We’ve seen this tiny joey kicking around in mum’s pouch for weeks. It has only just started poking its head out for its first look at the world,” Mr Davidson said.

When a joey is first born, it weighs less than two grams and is around the size of a jellybean.

Before they emerge and begin to explore the world on their own, Kangaroo Island joeys typically remain in the pouch for between seven to nine months. The mother will begin to wean the joey off her milk and reduce the amount of time it spends in the pouch after 18 months, by which time the joey will weigh around five kilograms.

Mr Davidson said that, since falling pregnant, mum Fern had become much more confident and social.

“Fern used to be a bit of a recluse before she fell pregnant. She kept to herself and would only approach keepers to feed. However, since her pregnancy, she has had a complete behavioural change and is now super friendly and loves being around the keepers and hanging out with her mob,” Mr Davidson said.

“Fern is a really beautiful seven-year-old kangaroo. She is lighter in colour than the others, which makes her easy to pick out from the rest. She’s doing really well for a first-time mum.”

As a crepuscular species, Kangaroo Island kangaroos are typically most active at dusk and dawn.

Zoo members and visitors are more likely to see the little joey peeking out of mum’s pouch within the Australia Bush precinct in the late afternoon.   

Kangaroo Island kangaroos are a subspecies of the more commonly known Western Grey kangaroo.

Evolving in isolation from their cousins on mainland Australia, Kangaroo Island kangaroos developed stockier builds and have darker coats, paws, feet and tails.

In the wild, kangaroos face threats from dog attacks and road accidents. However, with no large predators on Kangaroo Island, they have been able to thrive •

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