It’s not just the Easter bunny that Belfast Zoo staff have spotted this Easter. Kau Kau the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo has finally ‘hopped’ out of mum’s pouch to greet the Easter crowds.
Kau Kau was born to mother, Jaya and father, Hasu Hasu last summer but the joey has only recently ventured from her pouch to explore her surroundings. Like all marsupials, female tree kangaroos carry and nurse their young in their pouch.
As their name suggests, the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo is a tree-dwelling mammal which is native to the mountainous rainforests of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Tree kangaroos are well adapted to a life in the trees by climbing up to 20 feet high and leaping more than 30 feet through the air from branch to branch. However, this species is facing increasing threats due to habitat destruction and hunting.
Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, is delighted with the new arrival, “Belfast Zoo is committed to the conservation of species in danger and we take part in a number of global and collaborative breeding programmes. While we are always delighted to welcome new arrivals, we are particularly pleased with the arrival of Kau Kau. Until this year Belfast Zoo was the only zoo in the United Kingdom and Ireland to care for Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo and we were the first in the UK to breed the species back in 2014. This species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List as the population has dramatically declined in Papua New Guinea by at least 50% over the past three generations. The work of zoos is becoming ever more vital in ensuring the future survival of species, such as the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo, and we are delighted to play an active role in the conservation efforts.”
Zoo curator, Andrew Hope, said “When the joey is first born it is the size of a jelly bean and remains in the pouch for eight to ten months so Belfast Zoo staff were unable to determine the sex of the joey immediately. When we started to see the joey peak out of her pouch, we began to affectionately refer to her as ‘wee spud’. We then named her Kau Kau, a Papua New Guinea word for ‘sweet potato’ which happens to be our tree kangaroo’s favourite food. Kau Kau is already proving to be quite a character and we hope that visitors to Belfast Zoo will enjoy seeing her first ventures outside of her pouch.”
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