SEATTLE ‒ With a bit of patience and luck, visitors to Woodland Park Zoo may spot the head of a 5-month-old, red-necked wallaby peeking out of its mother’s pouch. The infant wallaby, known as a joey in the marsupial world, marks the first time a wallaby has been born at the zoo and is the first offspring for 3-year-old mom Kiley and 2-year-old father Maka.
The gender of the newborn joey has not been determined and is estimated to currently weigh just over a pound.
Wallabies are smaller members of the kangaroo family and are found primarily in Australia. At birth, the young are tiny, helpless, and undeveloped, weigh less than a gram and are roughly the size of a bean. The blind, hairless babies make the long trek after birth into the mother’s pouch where they suckle and develop over several months.
Zoo-goers can encounter the wallabies in the zoo’s Australasia exhibit along with wallaroos and emus, large ostrich-like birds. According to Deanna Ramirez, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo, the mother can be identified by an orange ear tag on the front of her right ear. “But be prepared. Kiley is quite shy,” notes Ramirez. “She tends to hide behind a row of bushes but occasionally ventures toward the front of the exhibit. Visitors may have to exercise a little patience for a sighting of mom and the joey, but it’s worth the reward of a cute photo opportunity. The joey is characteristically curious and is sticking its arms and feet out of the pouch as well.”
In another two to three months, the joey should begin hopping around outside of the pouch but will continue going in and out of the pouch for feeding. “It should be completely out of the pouch later this summer. For now, if you watch closely, you can see the joey moving around inside the mother’s pouch,” explained Ramirez.
Another birth has taken place in the Australasia exhibit. Zookeepers last week confirmed the presence of another newborn joey, this time in the pouch of a wallaroo. “We should be catching the first sightings of the wallaroo joey sometime in June or July,” added Ramirez.
Woodland Park Zoo participates in 72 Species Survival Plans (SSPs) sponsored by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), including the SSP for the red-necked wallaby. Led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, conservation and genetics, AZA-accredited institutions manage each species as one population in North America to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the population and the health of individual animals. SSPs also involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects.
Woodland Park Zoo is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through April 30. Admission through April 30: Adult (13-64) id="mce_marker"1.75; Child (3-12) $8.50; Toddler (0-2) free. Active and retired U.S. military and their families, seniors and people with physical disabilities receive an admission discount. Zoo members receive free zoo admission year round. Parking: $5.25.
For a Rainy Day Discount coupon, go to www.zoo.org/rainyday and check if it has been posted for the day. When offered, the discount coupon is good for 50% off on regular admission to the zoo, limit four admissions per coupon. The coupon will appear no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the coupon is valid. Discounts cannot be combined with other discounts or offers, and are good only for the day indicated on the coupon. If there isn’t a coupon, be sure to check back on another day.