Yellow-bellied glider joey debuts at Taronga

By Carolyn Barry September 3, 2015
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Banjo, the yellow-bellied glider possum at Taronga Zoo

Meet Banjo the yellow-bellied glider joey making his debut at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The four-month-old is the first baby born to mother Shy, who was a rescued orphan.

“Shy was hand-raised by a wildlife carer at Cessnock before finding a home at Taronga,” said Keeper, Wendy Gleen, in a statement. “This makes her first joey extra precious, as it shows hand-raising is not a barrier to successful breeding with Yellow-bellied Gliders.”

Taronga’s yellow-bellied glider breeding program is the only successful one of its kind. Known as ‘fluffy gliders’, these gliding possums (Petaurus australis) are able to soar 140m in a single leap. Adults grow to almost 50cm long.

He recently left his mother’s pouch but still snuggles into the nesting hollow. “He should start to venture out on his own shortly,” said Wendy. “He’s looking very healthy and he’s inherited mum’s distinctive dark splotches on the side of his nose,”

In the wild they are found in eucalypt forest along the east coast of Australia, from Queensland down to Victoria.

“The biggest problem for the gliders is local bushland being broken up by development along the eastern seaboard where they’re found,” Wendy said. “It takes 120 years for a mature tree to provide a nesting hollow, so they are irreplaceable in our lifetime and we’ve lost so many in recent years.”