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Cute alert: Tree kangaroo nurtures joey at Bronx Zoo

A Matschie’s tree kangaroo has started to emerge from its mother’s pouch, making a much-anticipated debut at the Bronx Zoo.

BRONX, N.Y. — A Matschie’s tree kangaroo born at the Bronx Zoo has started to emerge from its mother’s pouch, making its anticipated public debut. The joey is the first of its species born at the Bronx Zoo since 2008. 

At birth, the joey it is about the size of a human thumbnail and immediately crawls through the mother’s fur to enter her pouch. After about seven months, the joey emerges from the pouch but frequently returns to nurse. Like their kangaroo and wallaby cousins, the majority of the newborn’s physical development occurs in the mother’s pouch over a period of about six weeks. 

The joey and its mother are part of the zoo's JungleWorld exhibit.

“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, executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society and director of the Bronx Zoo. “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.”

Tree kangaroos live within the canopy of mountain forests, generally at elevations above 4,000 feet. Adults weigh as much as 30 pounds and measure about 30 inches in length, not including their tail. The 14 different species of tree kangaroos are found only in areas of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia.

They are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is estimated that fewer than 2,500 remain in the wild.

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