Chester Zoo’s breeding programme for the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo recently took a massive step forward with the birth of a new member of the species.
The kangaroo is a highly threatened animal now facing extinction, making the new resident of the zoo an especially welcome arrival.
Chester Zoo is one of only two facilities in Britain caring for the rare breed of kangaroo, and in its 91-year-long history, this is the first time the conservationist has bred the species. The zoo and its team are celebrating their efforts to help protect the highly endangered kangaroo breed.
As an elusive and shy creature, little is known about the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo. With the aim of learning more about the secretive animals, the breeding programme team has meticulously documented the joey’s growth. This process was made possible through a high-tech endoscopic camera placed carefully within the pouch of Kitawa, the mother of the new infant, on an intermittent basis.
Tree kangaroos have an exceptionally complex birthing process. When born, they are no bigger than a jellybean and incredibly underdeveloped. Just moments afterwards, they emerge with their eyes still shut, and instinctively crawl up their mother’s belly and enter her pouch. They follow a channel in her fur, which she marks out by wetting with her tongue. Inside, the joey receives nutrition and grows over six months.
The zoo expects the new-born to be hopping around soon, allowing visitors to Chester to see and learn more about the joey.