The red-necked wallaby joey born in October pokes its head out of its mother’s pouch at the Detroit Zoo. In late April, the joey fully came out of 3-year-old Eloise’s pouch for the first time.

The red-necked wallaby joey born in October pokes its head out of its mother’s pouch at the Detroit Zoo. In late April, the joey fully came out of 3-year-old Eloise’s pouch for the first time.

Photo provided by the Detroit Zoo


Wallaby joey parts from pouch at Detroit Zoo

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published May 28, 2021

 Zoo staff say first-time mother Eloise, 3, is very protective of her joey. Staff will determine the sex of the joey when he or she is older and mostly out of the pouch.

Zoo staff say first-time mother Eloise, 3, is very protective of her joey. Staff will determine the sex of the joey when he or she is older and mostly out of the pouch.

Photo provided by the Detroit Zoo

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ROYAL OAK — Guests at the Detroit Zoo can now see the baby wallaby, or joey, born in October to mother Eloise, 3, at the 2-acre Australian Outback Adventure. In late April, the joey fully came out of Eloise’s pouch for the first time.

The sex of the joey is not yet known, as it only takes brief romps outside of Eloise’s pouch, and, as a first-time mother, zoo staff say she is very protective. Staff will determine the sex when he or she is older and mostly out of the pouch.

The pair live with two other red-necked wallabies, as well as 13 red kangaroos. The joey, who has not yet been named, is the first to be born at the zoo since 2010.

The Australian Outback Adventure habitat is unique because guests can walk through the enclosure. While guests are confined to the path, the wallabies and kangaroos are not, so it is not uncommon to spot one lying in a patch of sun on the path.

Elizabeth Arbaugh, curator of mammals for the Detroit Zoological Society, said joeys don’t start getting fur until about 6 months old and that, now that the joey has developed a fine layer of fur, it is starting to venture out.

“Their gestation period is very short — in the neighborhood of about a month. When joeys are born, they are tiny, tiny — about the size of the tip of your (finger) — and very underdeveloped, with just the front limbs,” Arbaugh said. “After birth, they go into Mom’s pouch, where they spend months nursing and grow over time.”

On Feb. 15, animal care staff first saw movement in Eloise’s pouch, and on March 19, they first spotted the joey’s head.

“It’s probably going to be quite a few more months (until we know the sex of the joey),” Arbaugh said. “Eloise is a protective mother, so we’re not going to push it with her. We’re not going to try to get too close or make her uncomfortable.”

She said zoo staff occasionally feed Eloise a branch and get a little closer. Both species of marsupials in the habitat are herbivores and eat grass, leaves and a variety of produce, she said.

“The joey is definitely curious. Mom keeps joey close. We see (the joey) hop back into the pouch pretty readily, although over time, rather than hopping in, it will just put its head in to nurse,” she said.

She recommended that guests walk slowly and look throughout the whole habitat to spot the kangaroos and wallabies basking in the sun, soaking up the shade and grazing on the grass.

“They’re certainly bound to see Eloise and joey, too,” Arbaugh said.

Rachelle Spence, senior communications manager for the Detroit Zoological Society, said the joey’s emergence from its pouch has brought excitement and joy to zoo guests who traverse the winding path through the habitat.

“You can get a really good view of the joey, especially if you bring binoculars,” Spence said. “Visitors can really be face-to-face with marsupials at the Australian Outback Adventure (habitat).”

The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, west of Woodward Avenue.

For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit detroitzoo.org.

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