Bronx Zoo announces the debut of a Matschie’s tree kangaroo joey

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Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

A Matschie’s tree kangaroo baby has poked its head out of its mother’s pouch, signaling the debut of the first of its kind at the Bronx Zoo since 2008.

The joey and its mother can be seen at the zoo’s JungleWorld exhibit, with available times varying due to the joey’s adaptation to its surroundings. 

“This is an exciting birth for the Bronx Zoo and a unique opportunity for people to observe one of nature’s most intriguing evolutionary adaptations,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Bronx Zoo Director. “At this stage of development, the joey will spend a lot of time in his mom’s pouch with just its head sticking out.  As it matures it will begin to explore its environment and start spending short periods of time outside the pouch.”

Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

The birth is significant for the zoo because it marks the success of the zoo’s participation in a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA accredited zoos and aquariums work in partnership with each other to successfully exchange individual animals in order to maintain genetic diversity and demographic stability in zoo populations.

Tree kangaroos are marsupials – meaning they are born incompletely developed and finish a large portion of their development in their mother’s pouch. At birth, the joey is about the size of a human thumbnail and immediately crawls into its mother’s pouch to nurse and continue physical development. 

Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

After about seven months, the joey will emerge from the pouch, returning to nap or nurse.

Tree kangaroos are arboreal and live within the canopy of mountain forests, generally at elevations above 4000 feet. An adult male will weigh up to 30 pounds and measure about 30 inches in length not including the tail. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Matschie’s tree kangaroo as Endangered. It is estimated that fewer than 2500 remain in the wild. They are threatened by habitat destruction, unsustainable hunting practices, and other human activities. This makes the successful birth of the Bronx Zoo’s tree kangaroo that much more exciting.

To schedule a trip to see the new joey and visit the other attractions the Bronx Zoo has to offer, visit the website to plan ahead.

Julie Larsen Maher © WCS