First tree kangaroo born at Perth Zoo in 36 years

By Shannon Verhagen 23 June 2016
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Mian, Perth Zoo’s newest occupant, is not only adorable but vital to the endangered species’ survival.

PERTH ZOO IS at the centre of international excitement after welcoming an endangered Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo joey to the world – the first tree kangaroo born at the zoo in 36 years.

The six-month-old joey – named Mian – not only has visitors’ attention, but global attention, adding a vital boost to the Papua New Guinean species’ dwindling numbers.

In the wild, these avid climbers are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction, but with breeding program success and an ongoing partnership with Tenkile Conservation Alliance – which works on the ground to safeguard the animals in the wild – the zoo hopes to help save the species from extinction.

“He’s the 15th male to be born in a zoo anywhere in the world, so he’ll bring some valuable new genetics to the global breeding program,” said Kerry Pickles, an Australian fauna keeper at the zoo.

Tree kangaroo Perth Zoo

Image courtesy Perth Zoo

While the zoo has bred other species of tree kangaroo in the past (the last 36 years ago), without a male the two resident female Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) were unable to reproduce until last year, when the zoo acquired male tree kangaroo Huli.

That makes Mian the first of his species born at the zoo in its 118-year history.

As part of the World Zoo Associations’ global breeding program, Huli was transferred from Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland to Perth after being identified as the most suitable genetic match, and soon after, little Mian was born.

Having discovered the joey at just four days old, keepers have been able to track and monitor his growth from a blind, hairless joey the size of a jelly bean, providing extremely valuable information about the species.

Due to leave the pouch in the coming months, Kerry says Mian has been getting braver and more adventurous by the day – popping his head out of the pouch to explore his surrounds and give excited visitors a glimpse.

“For the keepers working directly with the tree kangaroos, it’s a really exciting time,” she says.

“He’s an absolutely adorable little joey.”

But he’s got big shoes to fill – once Mian is old enough, he will follow in the footsteps of his father and be transferred to another zoo to further the breeding program.

With high hopes that this is the first of many exciting announcements, Huli has now been introduced to the zoo’s second resident female, Doba, for breeding.