After a span of 36 years, Australia’s Perth Zoo is rejoicing the birth of a baby Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo, Mian. The zoo’s newest baby joey is not only adorable, but his life is crucial to the endangered species’ survival. As he gets older, Mian is expected to become a valuable asset to the zoo’s special tree-kangaroo breeding program.
Mian was born six months ago as jellybean-sized joey and last week prodded his head out of his mother’s pouch, to the delight of animal lovers. The birth of joey is a major boost in global efforts to protect the endangered species, native to Papua New Guinea.
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Mian enjoyed his mother’s pouch for the first six months of his life. His name comes after the area in Papua New Guinea where the endangered species originates from. After relishing the safety of his mom’s pouch for the last six months, the little joey is starting to peek out and explore the world.
Reportedly, the zoo’s veterinary team detected the baby tree kangaroo when he was four days old, when it had crawled into the pouch. Since then, they have been tracking its development with a high-precision camera.
The Guardian quoted Perth Zookeeper Kerry Pickles saying, the birth was an exciting development in global efforts to conserve the species, which is restricted by a limited gene pool.
“We were able to see when toenails developed, when Mian’s eyes opened, his first smattering of fur and when he started to poke his head out of his mother’s pouch.”
“He flips his tail and pops his head in and out of his mothers’ pouch while she eats a stick of broccoli, seemingly disinterested in the zookeepers cooing in the background,” the Daily Mail added.
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The joey’s birth is a result of a global breeding program for Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos. Perth Zoo hasn’t managed to breed one in the last 36 years. This time, the mating of Mian’s mother, Kaluli, and father, Huli brought results.
Now, Perth Zoo authorities are planning to mate Huli with other female tree kangaroos with hopes of triggering a tree kangaroo baby boom. Huli arrived in Perth from a Queensland Zoo last year.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers the ornate tree-kangaroo endangered because the wild kangaroo population dwindled over last 30 years due to indiscriminate hunting and loss of habitat. The endangered marsupial gets its name from the British zoological collector Walter Goodfellow.
The omnivorous Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo species has soft reddish-brown fur with golden fur on its limbs, face, underbelly and two stripes that stretch from its tail up its back.
While, they have a similar anatomy to red kangaroos, they physically act like monkeys. Compared to the ground-dwelling kangaroos, they are adept at climbing trees as their long tail helps them balance on the branches and their rubbery-soled limbs provide a good grip. Moreover, they can also move their hind feet separately.
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The natives of Papua New Guinea rainforest hunt these endangered tree kangaroos for food, especially because of their large size. Reportedly, conservation groups are working with natives to protect the gene pool of the species and encourage the use of alternative food sources such as rabbits and chickens.
“Mian will be in the pouch for another one or two months. When he matures, he will be sent to another zoo to continue the breeding program,” The Guardian reported.
Reportedly, Mian joins 14 other males in a world-wide breeding program. Perth Zoo collaborates with Tenkile Conservation Alliance, which works in Papua New Guinea to protect tree kangaroos in the wild.
[Photo by Handout/Getty Images]