UPDATE: First photo of the Joey has been released.
The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo’s newest resident is a baby tree kangaroo, or joey. Omari, a 3-year-old female Matschie’s tree kangaroo at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, gave birth to the joey sometime in November.
The tiny joey found its way to Omari’s pouch where it spent about six months growing before staff and students were able to see its little head poke out. The zoo staff has not yet determined if it is a male or female.
“At this point we have only seen glimpses of the joey,” said Jonathan Miot, director of the Teaching Zoo. “But, we are extremely excited because mom and baby appear to be doing great.”
This is the first joey for Omari, who was born at the Milwaukee County Zoo, and father Tep Tep, the Zoo’s 4-year-old male originally from the St. Louis Zoo.
Matschie’s tree kangaroos are an endangered mammal found on the Huon peninsula of Papua New Guinea.
“It’s an exciting birth from the public’s perspective and for the conservation of the species,” said Jonathan Miot. “They’re endangered, so that means any birth in the zoo is exciting news for their population.”
There are currently only 50 tree kangaroos in zoos nationwide. In about two years, the SF Teaching Zoo will send the joey to another zoo to breed. A population manager with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums will determine the best genetic match with this offspring.
Saturday, May 26, is Tree Kangaroo Awareness Day. The public is invited to celebrate this incredible animal and the birth of the joey, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The zoo will offer samples of Caffe Vita’s Papua New Guinea Yopno Uruwa Som coffee. Caffe Vita has partnered with the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program to bring this shade-grown coffee blend to the United States.
The best time to observe the tree kangaroos is in the morning, before it gets hot.
“You may see the joey in or out of the pouch, or poised at the top of a tree branch with his mom,” said Miot. “We hope to eventually get the public involved in the joey’s naming, so be thinking of names during your visit.”