Adelaide Zoo’s ‘world-first’ tree-kangaroo with three mums has become a dad.
Makaia, an endangered Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo, made news around the world in 2014 when the then five-week-old orphaned joey was kept alive by cross-fostering — being transferred to a wallaby’s pouch.
Now, five years later, Makaia, who moved to Singapore Zoo in 2016 as part of a Global Species Management Plan, has become a father, meaning there is one more of this endangered species in the world.
Makaia and Nupela — who came to Singapore from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, NSW — are now parents to a male joey.
When tree-kangaroos are born after a gestation* of about 40 days, they are still in an embryonic* state. This newest joey was born on February 4. The jelly bean-sized newborn then crawled into his mother’s pouch. After eight months, he has now emerged* into the world.
Speaking about the new arrival, Mark Smith, Curator at Adelaide Zoo said: “We are delighted to learn that Makaia has gone on to become a father. Huge congratulations to Makaia and everyone at Singapore Zoo.”
Saving even one tiny Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo is very important.
Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroos inhabit the rainforests of New Guinea. A distant relative of the kangaroo and wallaby, the species lives in trees and rarely descends* to the ground. Distinguishable* by its striking back stripe, the Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo is classified by the IUCN* as endangered in the wild due to overhunting and loss of habitat.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur of Wildlife Reserves Singapore said: “In these uncertain times, the birth of this Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo is certainly a ray of light for the Global Species Management Plan. Such programs enable zoos the world over to breed threatened species in a scientific and co-ordinated manner to achieve demographic* and genetic sustainability. Together with conservation efforts in the animals’ natural habitats, these breeding programs help to ensure the survival of the species.”
Sadly, Makaia’s biological mum Kia died when a tree fell in November 2014, when Makaia was only five weeks old. There are so few Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroos left that the only way to try to keep Makaia alive was to cross-foster him with another species.
“Cross-fostering is a technique that Adelaide Zoo began pioneering in the 1990s and involves the transfer of endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species,” Mr Smith said.
“Although Zoos SA had success with cross-fostering wallaby species the technique had never been used on a tree-kangaroo.”
Tiny Makaia was transferred to the pouch of a yellow-footed rock-wallaby named Missy Fitton.
“Tree-kangaroos are distant relatives of wallabies but they have many behavioural and physical differences. We had no idea if the yellow-footed rock-wallaby would accept the tree-kangaroo joey, but if we wanted to save the joey we had to try our luck. Fortunately it worked.”
Makaia stayed with his wallaby mum for about three and a half months until he became too big for her pouch. Then his third mum, keeper Gayl Males, took over caring for him until his big move to Singapore in 2016.
- gestation: the time while a foetus before birth
- embryonic: relating to an embryo, or foetus, before a baby is born
- emerged: came out from somewhere
- descends: goes down
- distinguishable: able to be distinguished or seen as different
- IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature
- demographic: relating to the structure of a population
- What does IUCN stand for?
- Where do Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroos live in the wild?
- Why is it important to breed this species in captivity?
- How does the joey get to the pouch after it is born?
- Who is Missy Fitton?
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1. Write a Lullaby
A lullaby is a special song for babies to help to calm them and help them fall asleep. Write the words for a very special lullaby for the new baby joey. Your lullaby should be about how and why he is so special. If you want, use the tune of a lullaby that you might know or make one up!
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science
The breeding program that helped Makaia to become a father is an important one to help save the endangered tree-kangaroos. Can you think of other things that should be done to help endangered species to survive? Think of as many ideas as you can. Use your ideas to create a Plan of Action poster. The purpose of your poster is to help other kids understand what needs to be done to help endangered species like the Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo.
Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Communication Design, Science
Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.
How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).
Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?
What are they?
Can you sort them into their categories?
HAVE YOUR SAY: Name Makaia and Nupela’s new joey.
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.