Conservationists at Chester Zoo have captured the moment a rare tree kangaroo popped its head out of its mother’s pouch in a “celebratory moment” for the endangered species.
The tree-dwelling marsupial is the first Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo to be born in a breeding programme at the Cheshire wildlife centre, which is working to save the highly endangered species from extinction.
The unnamed joey was the size of a jelly bean when it was born to mother Kitawa and father Kayjo in July and has been growing in its pouch, known as a marsupium, ever since.
David White, team manager at Chester Zoo, said it was a “real celebratory moment” for a species that had “suffered tremendously”.
“The new baby will soon emerge from the pouch fully and begin hopping around and learning to climb trees, under the watchful eye of mum Kitawa,” he said.
“That’s when we’ll be able to determine if it’s male or female and give the youngster a fitting name.”
Mr White added: “These remarkable animals have suffered tremendously in the wild.
“They are hunted for their meat, and their habitat is disappearing around them as forests are cleared for timber and to make way for coffee and rice plantations.
“With little being known about these shy and elusive creatures, small mammal experts at our conservation zoo are in a unique position to be able to capture and document the whole process around the development of Kitawa’s joey.
The kangaroos climb trees using their long, curved claws and rubbery soles and can jump distances of up to nine metres from tree to tree.
Their strong, stocky arms allow them to grip bark and branches with ease as they search for flowers, grasses and leaves to eat.
Chester Zoo is home to more than 27,000 animals from more than 500 species, and its conservation work also involves Bornean orangutans, Indian elephants and tigers.