SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Zoo's 7-month-old endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo has finally emerged from her mother's pouch.
The young "joey" has not been named, but is beginning to spend more time outside her mom, Polly, according to zoo officials.
“The joey, right now, cannot get enough things in her mouth,” said Breanne Barney, keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “She’s constantly trying to eat leaves, greens, various vegetables, corn—even chewing on moms’ ears, tail, hands and feet!”
The little kangaroo doesn't stray far from her mom though, as she learns to climb and maneuver outside of the pouch, the zoo says.
Matschie’s tree kangaroos have an estimated gestation period of about 45 days and are about the size of a jelly bean when born. Once born, they crawl back into their mom's pouch and attach to a nipple to gain nourishment and grow. Tree kangaroos remain in the pouch for a few months.
“Polly is an excellent mother, and consistently grooming her little one,” Barney said. “Due to their small population numbers, this joey provides a spark of hope for the future of this species.”
The kangaroos are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of threatened species. There are less than 2,500 of the kangaroos in their native habitats of Papua New Guinea and the Huon Peninsula.
Unfortunately, they are hunted by humans for food and trade, according to the zoo.
The zoo's Matschie’s tree kangaroos came to the Safari Park’s Walkabout Australia in 2018 as part of a Species Survival Plan breeding program.