Kevin Schofield's writings, observations, and other pointless distractions
The Woodland Park Zoo blog has a fascinating post today about the wallaby and wallaroo joeys being raised there.
The whole family of macropodidae, including kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies, have a bizarre and perilous gestation and birth process. After only about 30 days of gestation, the joey is about the size of a lima bean, blind, and with only partially formed legs. Nevertheless, it emerges from the birth canal and climbs up the abdomen of its mother into her pouch — a process that takes it about 5 minutes. If it successfully reaches the pouch, it latches onto a teat there and begins feeding. The pouch will be its home for the next six months, though towards the end of that time it will leave the pouch for short periods of time as it learns to move around and eat on its own.
At the zoo there are currently two joeys: one large enough to stick its head out of the pouch, and the other still very tiny. What’s amazing is that the keepers have trained the mother of the younger joey to allow them to do “pouch checks” once a week to check on the health of the joey. They are using this opportunity to take photographs of the joey as it grows, and in so doing are gathering important new documentation on the gestation and birth process of these amazing animals. Make sure you flip through all the pictures on the zoo’s site and see the different stages of development — truly fascinating stuff. Or watch their video: