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Rare tree ‘roo joey begins to emerge

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Exciting news—we’ve made the very first sightings of our Matschie’s tree kangaroo joey! At six months old, the joey is just now beginning to emerge from its mother’s pouch. First the keepers spied only the joey’s ear poking out of the pouch, but within a few days, its whole face emerged.
Joey’s face emerges. Photo by Wendy Gardner/Woodland Park Zoo.

Born the size of a lima bean in December 2010, the joey has been developing unseen inside its mother’s pouch where it gets nourishment and protection. Tree ‘roo mother, four-year-old Elanna, has been cleaning the joey and providing excellent care. The two are living adjacent to father Huen in a quiet outdoor exhibit behind the scenes at the zoo where keepers can closely monitor the progress of mom and joey.
Mother Elanna feeds while joey remains protected in pouch. Photo by Wendy Gardner/Woodland Park Zoo.

This rare birth, part of the cooperative breeding Species Survival Plan program for this endangered species, is especially thrilling for us—this is our first tree ‘roo joey since 1998! It will be several months before the joey fully emerges out of its mother’s pouch, but we’ll be sure to post updates to share with you all what is happening with mom and joey in their behind-the-scenes exhibit.
Matschie’s tree kangaroo in Papua New Guinea. Photo by Bruce Beehler/Conservation International.

The Matschie’s tree kangaroo represents one of Woodland Park Zoo’s flagship conservation programs, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP). Under the leadership of WPZ senior conservation scientist Dr. Lisa Dabek, TKCP is working with the people of Papua New Guinea to save endangered tree kangaroos and their habitat, while improving the livelihoods of local communities that share resources with tree ‘roos.
Huon peninsula, home of Papua New Guinea’s first Conservation Area.
Photo by Bruce Beehler/Conservation International.

In 2009, TKCP worked with PNG government and villagers to create their nation’s first ever Conservation Area, protecting 187,000 acres of forest habitat pledged to conservation by the local landowners.
WPZ’s Dr. Lisa Dabek works closely with the communities of Papua New Guinea.
Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

In exchange, we’re helping these communities find alternative, sustainable livelihoods including a project to make coffee from this region of PNG available to Seattle coffee shops for the first time.
Papua New Guinea farmers sort coffee berries. Photo by Zachary Wells/TKCP.

If you’d like to help conserve tree kangaroos, you can go to, or use your cell phone to donate $5 to the program today by texting ROOS to 20222. Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. All gifts will be doubled by a generous $1 million match from Conservation International until June 30, 2011. For more info visit Thank you for your support!