Adelaide Zoo farewells ‘miracle’ tree kangaroo

By AG Staff Writer 27 June 2016
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
An orphaned Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo, famous for being fostered by a rock-wallaby, is being transferred to Singapore next week.

MAKAIA, AN ORPHANED tree kangaroo at Adelaide Zoo in South Australia, is getting ready for a big journey to his new home in South Australia.

The Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo was originally made famous in November 2014 when, in a conservation world-first, he was successfully fostered by a yellow-footed rock-wallaby at just seven weeks old, after the sudden death of his mother.

VIDEO: Baby tree kangaroo fostered by rock wallaby (2014)

Adelaide Zoo pioneered so-called ‘cross-fostering’ in the 1990s. The breeding technique involves transfering endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species. This accelerates the breeding cycle of the original wallaby, allowing the female to increase its reproduction rate up to eight times in some species.

Makaia stayed with his wallaby mum for about three and half months until he became too big for her pouch and a keeper took over caring for him.

cross fostering

Makaia with his surrogate mother, a yellow-footed rock-wallaby. (Image courtesy Adelaide Zoo)

“We’ve had great success over the years’ cross-fostering between wallaby species, but the specialised breeding technique had never been used on a tree kangaroo before, so it was a huge achievement for the zoo,” said Dr Ian Smith, a senior veterinarian at Adelaide Zoo.

In Singapore, Makaia will be paired with a female Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo from Taronga Zoo.

“[Makaia] is extremely genetically valuable for the region and we are hopeful he will form an important part of the international breeding program working to save this endangered species from extinction,” said Ian.

More footage of Makaia, Adelaide Zoo’s ‘miracle’ tree kangaroo. (No sound). Video courtesy Adelaide Zoo.