Kangaroos Thinking Outside the Pouch
Two kangaroo joeys born at Brookfield Zoo are now exploring their outdoor habitat at the Australia House exhibit. The joeys, born on February 20 and March 13 of last year to moms Daisy, 7½, and Sheila, 11, have been spending more time out of their mothers’ pouches.
The 10- and 11-month-old joeys began hopping around and exploring their new surroundings this past November and just this month, respectively. As they grow, they obviously will be too big to fit in the pouches but will still stick their heads in to nurse until about 18 months of age.
At birth, a joey is born at a very underdeveloped stage and is about the size of a jellybean. When born, the baby marsupial needs to crawl up and into its mother’s pouch without any assistance and then attaches itself to a teat, where it will remain for many months to grow and develop.
During this early stage of development, a mother produces low-fat milk for her young, and as a joey gets older and ventures out of the pouch, the milk becomes high in fat. The joey will continue to nurse for another nine months once it is out of the pouch. A truly amazing attribute of this species is that if a mother kangaroo is nursing a newly born joey and a juvenile already out of the pouch, she has the ability to produce both low-fat milk and high-fat milk at the same time. A joey remains in its mother’s pouch for approximately nine months. Keepers may notice pouch development and some movement at about three months in the development process. When the joey is 8 months old, it begins venturing out of the pouch more frequently.
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