Perth Zoo is celebrating the birth of an endangered Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo joey, the first to be born at the Zoo in 36 years.

The male joey which was born the size of a jellybean six months ago is now starting to poke its head out of its mother’s pouch and become more independent, much to the delight of Zoo visitors.

The birth of the infant is the result of some successful matchmaking between mother, ‘Kaluli’ and father, ‘Huli’ who arrived from Queensland last year after being identified as the best genetic match for the breeding program.

Australian Fauna Keeper, Kerry Pickles, said: “The successful birth is not only a cause for celebration for Perth Zoo, but also a boost for the World Zoo Association global breeding program.”

“Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos, which are native to Papua New Guinea, are so endangered that zoos around the world have banded together to coordinate breeding with the aim to reverse their decline.”

“The youngster named ‘Mian’, after a province in PNG is one of only 15 males in the global species management program. His genetics will be very valuable when he reaches breeding age.”

Tree Kangaroos remain in their mother’s pouches for approximately six to eight months before testing out their arboreal legs. Perth Zoo Keepers were able to keep a close eye on the development of the joey after training the mother to have her pouch checked.

“The joey was first confirmed in Kaluli’s pouch, when it was estimated to be only four days of age. We used a small camera to ensure the least intervention to the tree kangaroo mother.

We’ve learnt some invaluable information about the species,” said Kerry. “We were able to see when toe nails developed, when Mian’s eyes opened, his first smattering of fur and when he started to poke his head out of his mother’s pouch.”

“We’ve also recently introduced male tree kangaroo Huli to our other resident female, ‘Doba’, and hope to announce more tree kangaroo breeding successes in the future,” said Kerry.

Perth Zoo’s work to save tree kangaroos from extinction extends beyond the Zoo’s borders.

The Zoo is the longest continuous conservation partner of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance which works in the mountains of Papua New Guinea to safeguard tree kangaroos in the wild. The organisation works with more than 50 village communities to protect tree kangaroos. The Zoo’s community fundraising has assisted with wildlife surveys to get proper population data on the animals, as well as education and community development programs.