Rare case of wallaby fostering tree kangaroo in pouch

2015-06-30 10:36
A female yellow-foot rock wallaby carries a baby Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo in their enclosure at Adelaide Zoo. (Kate Fielder, AFP)

A female yellow-foot rock wallaby carries a baby Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo in their enclosure at Adelaide Zoo. (Kate Fielder, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Australian zookeepers on Tuesday said they had successfully fostered an orphaned tree kangaroo with a surrogate wallaby in a rare case after its mother was crushed by a branch.

The Goodfellow's tree kangaroo, named Makaia by its carers at Adelaide Zoo in South Australia, was just five weeks old and at risk of dying after its three-year-old mother was killed by a falling tree branch in November.

In a bid to save the joey, which was too young to be hand-reared, zookeepers placed the baby marsupial in the pouch of a female yellow-foot rock wallaby in a "cross-fostering" technique they hoped would help it stay alive.

"We were so excited when we confirmed the joey had made it past the first critical 24-hour period," said Adelaide Zoo's team leader of natives, Gayl Males.

"We were uncertain as to whether the joey was going to be accepted. The joey first popped its head out of the pouch around the end of January.

"It was certainly a sight to see a tree kangaroo joey, with its reddish-tan fur, bright blue eyes and long claws riding around in a wallaby."

A cheeky little fellow

Goodfellow's tree kangaroos, named after British zoological collector Walter Goodfellow, are found in the rainforests of New Guinea.

They are classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with the species under threat from habitat loss and overhunting.

The zoo's veterinarian David McLelland said, as far as he knew, cross-fostering had not been attempted with a tree kangaroo before.

"We've had great success over the years' cross-fostering between wallaby species, but the specialised breeding technique has never been used on a tree kangaroo," McLelland said.

"Not only are tree kangaroos distant relatives of wallabies, they also have many behavioural and physical differences. We had no idea if the yellow-foot rock wallaby would accept the tree kangaroo joey, but if we wanted to save the joey we had to try our luck."

Makaia lived with his surrogate mother for three-and-a-half months before Males took over caring for him.

Gestation takes about 45 days for Goodfellow's tree kangaroos. The babies spend their first few months in their mother's pouch, suckling, and then leave for progressively longer periods of time until fully independent.

"He's certainly a cheeky little fellow and loves running amok," Males said.

Read more on:    australia  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.