Animal babies are everywhere this spring at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and one place to get a glimpse is in Australia Walkabout. Much to the delight of guests, little Poppy, who was born last fall, is leaving mom Kiah’s pouch more often now that she is about eight months old. Over the summer, Poppy will begin spending most of her time out of the pouch but will still be referred to as a “joey,” which is the term for a young wallaby.
“Between 11 and 15 months of age she will be called a ‘joey at foot,’ meaning that she will stay close to mom, but will not spend much time in the pouch any longer because she will be weaned,” said Animal Care Manager Joanna Husby.
Born last fall, it was many months before bean-sized Poppy grew large enough to crawl up and peer out of mom’s pouch. Wallaby joeys, like all marsupials, spend many months developing inside mom’s pouch where it is safe and warm, and where they can nurse. In fact, sometimes it is difficult to guess the age of an infant wallaby. Much depends on whether a keeper can get a voluntary “pouch peek” from the mother, and even then, age is a guess based on size and the amount of fur the baby has.
Using the “pouch peek” method, the Australia Walkabout keepers have determined that another Cheyenne Mountain Zoo wallaby, Bindi, has a young joey in her pouch! The newborn was first glimpsed when it was about an inch long. It is now estimated to be about two months old.
“We don’t yet know the gender of Bindi’s joey,” said Husby, adding that it will be a few months yet before that can be determined. At about six months of age, the baby should start peering out of its mother’s pouch, so it may be fall before guests catch a glimpse of the newest wallaby baby.
In the meantime, little Poppy, mom Kiah, and dad Bugsy – who is also the sire of Bindi’s joey – are currently out with the rest of the mob (the term for a wallaby group). You can see them during regular Zoo hours in the Australia Walkabout exhibit.
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