View from the Zoo: Joeys emerge into limelight

A young Joey ready to leave its mother's pouch.
A young Joey ready to leave its mother's pouch.

It has been an exciting month for new arrivals here at the zoo and in particular our Australia section has seen some little ones emerge from their mothers’ pouches and take their first hops around their home.

Within our Australia section we have a wallaby walkway which is home to Parma wallabies and swamp wallabies. The zoo’s swamp wallabies now have four Joeys at different stages in their development. Two have been seen moving around within in the pouch, another has their head poked out while another is already out on the move with its mother.

As our wallabies are Australian mammals, they are classed as marsupials. The females within this specific group of animals give birth to a young Joey about the size of a baked bean which then has to make its way to its mothers pouch for it to continue growing and developing for about nine months. After this time it will begin to spend increasing amounts of time away from the pouch, gaining confidence and discovering different items of food to eat. It will then become fully independent after around another four months. If the female wallaby becomes pregnant again while the Joey is still in her pouch, the embryo’s development will pause until the Joey leaves the pouch, a phenomenon called embryonic diapause.

Our two species of wallaby are distinguishable either by their size or colour. The Parma wallaby are the smallest species of wallaby so they may look like Joeys but they are actually fully grown adults and the swamp wallabies have rust-coloured bellies.

The design of the wallaby enclosure allows visitors to walk through and meander along a path which goes around the outskirts providing the wallabies with a large enclosure to roam around, this gives visitors a chance to see these amazing animals up close.

The diet consists of a range of plants including shrubs, crops and pasture. Wallabies are also able to tolerate plants that are toxic to other animals such as braken, lantana and hemlock. Here at Flamingo Land wallabies receive a range of plants, vegetables and specialised pellets. In the wild they are classed as least concern with their numbers and populations well-controlled.