SAN DIEGO — A female joey named Kikori is now nine months old after being born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in August of last year, officials announced Thursday.
Born to mother Arona and father Bek, this is only the second time this endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo species has been born at the Safari Park.
At birth, these tiny joeys are only about the size of a jellybean, park officials explained. The baby kangaroos then crawl into their mother’s pouch, where it remains for about six months until it gains enough nourishment to become active.
“We are elated with the birth of this Matschie’s tree kangaroo joey,” said Donovan Vila, wildlife care specialist at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Matschie’s tree kangaroos are endangered, so this joey provides hope for the future of this species.”
Kikori has recently started climbing out of her mother’s pouch and park officials say she’s showing interest in ficus, hibiscus and ferns, while also sampling solid food such as carrots, cucumber and lettuce. The kangaroo joey will stay close to her mother for about a year and half.
According to the Safari Park, Matschie’s tree kangaroos are native to Papua New Guinea and the Huon Peninsula, though they are also sometimes found in the rainforests of Australia.
This species is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The Safari Park says there are fewer than 2,500 adult Matschie’s tree kangaroos left in their native habitats.
Officials explained that their population is decreasing because they are hunted by humans for food and trade. Another contributing factor to their lack in numbers is habitat loss due to expanding agriculture in their home regions.
Guests can who visit the Walkabout Australia area of the Safarai Park may get a glimpse of Arona and her joey in their habitat.
The Safari Park open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.