New offspring for the Parma wallabies
Off to Australia! Visitors to Zoo Berlin will feel like they've just entered the Australian outback. The wooden bridge will lead you conveniently onto the red continent. And to South America. But we certainly do not want to go there - not today at least. Today we're traveling to Australia, on a kangaroo expedition. Since we have some vibrant youth activity there!
In addition to red kangaroos, tiny Parma wallabies also live here. These are among the smallest representatives of the kangaroo family. Adult animals measure just a mere 50 cm. The babies are even smaller and almost don't resemble the typical kangaroo whatsoever. Three babies currently live in Zoo Berlin.
Long birth: First in the pouch, then out the pouch
It was 30 weeks in total until our two little Parma wallabies chanced their first big leap after their birth: as the warm May sun shone down, a lumbering no-nonsense voyage of discovery was undertaken without the protective pouch of mums Sanne and Anouk went.
Already the second for the young wallabies. After approx. 35 days in the protective stomach of their mother, about the same size as a gummy bear, pink, naked and not a gram of fat, they made their way to the mum's pouch via the peritoneum for a period of some 7 months. Well protected, firmly suckled to the teats of Sanne and Anouk, our little unobserved offspring were able to happily thrive in the fresh May air.
The two little ones have been exploring their home with distinct interest ever since – stopping here and there, observing the going ons of their family and enjoying the copious amounts of care on offer from mothers Sanne and Anouk. What could be a better greeting for our Zoo newbies!
Family planning continues
Both kangaroo mums are doing well and are probably already looking forward to their next offspring. Parma wallabies mate again shortly after birth. And as the young animals are weaned by their mother, another small embryo is growing inside her already. True baby specialists, our South East Australian wallabies.
Parma wallabies were deemed to be extinct for quite some time. As an exception to the usual rule, their adversaries were not humans, but in fact the invasive red fox. It was discovered in 1965 that a colony of these species of kangaroo had survived on New Zealand. The animals were introduced on the New Zealand Kawau Island in 1870 by the former Governor.
They had previously been stationed in South Africa and Australia and were brought along with several other animal species, including zebras, antelopes, deer, twelve marsupial species and all sorts of birds, to be released onto the island to live. This resulted in an ecological catastrophe. Most of the animal species settled there died out, but five species of marsupials survived, including the Parma kangaroo. After their rediscovery, the valuable animals were brought back to Australia and around 300 animals given to zoos. They are still potentially at risk according to the IUCN (link), but the numbers are stable at least.
The early bird catches the worm
Those who want to watch the wallabies hopping around should come to the Zoo as early as possible. Since the Parma wallabies are crepuscular animals, they prefer to hide under the trees and bushes during the day. They are the most active during the mornings and late afternoons.