Rare rock-wallaby joeys sighted in Australia

Sydney, Aug 7 (IANS) Two rare rock-wallaby joeys emerged from their mother’s pouches at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, continuing its successful breeding programme for the endangered species, it was announced on Friday.

A female joey started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch at the zoo this week, around five months after it was born, Xinhua reported.

Baby wallabies are born as mobile embryos which spend months suckling in the pouch before they develop and emerge as fur-covered babies called joeys.

“She’s still quite shy, but we’re starting to see her little face more and more,” keeper Tony Britt-Lewis said of one of the joeys on Friday.

“Mica (the mother) likes to find a nice spot to rest in the sun and the joey will often pop its head out to look around.”

The joey will likely spend another month inside the pouch, before venturing outside to explore its surroundings.

The joey is one of two brush-tailed rock-wallabies to emerge in the past week at Taronga Zoo. Another of the zoo’s breeding group, Ruby, is also carrying a joey.

Britt-Lewis said keepers are yet to determine the sex of the second joey, but both infants appear to be strong and healthy.

“Mica and Ruby are both very experienced and attentive mothers, so they are showing all the right nurturing behaviours,” he said.

Once abundant and widespread across the rocky country of south-eastern Australia, brush-tailed rock-wallabies are now listed as an endangered species in New South Wales.

They were hunted extensively for their meat and fur in the early 1900s and today they continue to be threatened by habitat loss and introduced predators, such as foxes and feral cats.

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