Taronga Zoo

Koala Joeys Emerge for Spring at Taronga Zoo

1_Baxter_Photo by Paul Fahy (4)

Spring, in Australia, has heralded the arrival of more tiny paws at Taronga Zoo, with two new Koala joeys emerging from the pouch to the delight of keepers and visitors.

2_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (3)

3_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (1)

4_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (2)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Koala Joey 'TJ': images 2,3,4,5,7,12 / Koala 'Baxter': images 1,6,8,9,10,11)

A male joey has appeared just in time to catch the warmer weather. The seven-month-old, who keepers have named TJ, is the first joey for mother Sydney.

“We’ve been seeing arms and legs and even a little pair of eyes peeking out from Sydney’s pouch in recent weeks, but he wasn’t ready to venture outside until this week,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

Sydney isn’t the only first-time mother at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, with neighbor Mallee also welcoming her first joey.

The male joey has been named Baxter, after a stringybark species called Eucalyptus Baxteri, and he’s already developing a taste for leaves.

“Baxter is chomping on leaves like a champion. He’s obviously still suckling from mum, but he’ll become more and more independent over the coming months,” said Laura.

“He loves climbing up near Mallee’s head to look around and I saw him step off on his own for the first time this week. He only lasted a few seconds before returning to mum, but he looked quite pleased with himself.”

Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this season, with experienced mother, Wanda, welcoming a female joey in June.

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Endangered Wallaby Joeys Emerge at Taronga Zoo

1_Wallaby Joey (2) Photo by Paul Fahy

Two tiny Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby joeys have emerged from their mother's pouches at Taronga Zoo, continuing its successful breeding program for the endangered species.

2_Wallaby Joey (9) Photo by Paul Fahy

3_Wallaby Joey (12) Photo by Paul Fahy

4_Wallaby Joey (16) Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

A female joey has started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch in the Zoo’s Platypus Pools exhibit, delighting keepers and keen-eyed visitors.

“She’s still quite shy, but we’re starting to see her little face more and more. Mica likes to find a nice spot to rest in the sun and the joey will often pop its head out to look around,” said Keeper, Tony Britt-Lewis.

At five months of age, the joey will likely spend another month inside the pouch, before venturing outside to explore its surroundings.

The joey is one of two Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies to emerge in the past week. Another of the Zoo’s breeding group, Ruby, is also carrying a joey.

Once abundant and widespread across the rocky country of southeastern Australia, Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) are now listed as an endangered species in New South Wales. They are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby population has declined by up to 97% in the last 130 years.

Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies have called Australia home for millennia. They are found nowhere else on earth and are a unique part of Australia’s natural heritage. “Brushies” were once common in all of Eastern Australia, and they numbered over half a million individuals. In the 19th century, Brushies were hunted by humans for their fur (now outlawed), but today they are still killed by predators, such as: foxes, feral dogs, and cats. They also face competition from introduced species such as goats and of course, a loss of habitat due to farming, weed invasion and the generally expanding human population. They’re vulnerable to introduced diseases and suffer from a lower overall genetic health, due to the increasing isolation of colonies.

Taronga Zoo is working with the Office of Environment and Heritage on a coordinated program to help the recovery of the species.

More incredible pics, below the fold!

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First Koala Joey of the Season at Taronga Zoo

1_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (1)

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its first Koala joey for this year’s breeding season, with a tiny face starting to emerge from its mother’s pouch. The female joey has been spotted mouthing its first eucalyptus leaves and slowly exploring the world outside the pouch, to the delight of keepers and visitors.

“She’s still quite shy, but we’re beginning to see her little face more and more,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones. 

2_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (13)

3_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (17)

4_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (18)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Part of Taronga’s Koala breeding program, the yet-to-be-named joey is the third for experienced mother, Wanda. “Wanda is a very relaxed and attentive mum. She keeps her little one nice and close at all times and I’ve never seen her complain when the joey is scratching around with its claws inside her pouch,” said Laura.

At six months old, the joey will continue to gain weight and the fluffy fur for which Koalas are known. She will spend, at least, another four months with her mother before venturing out on her own. “It won’t be long before she can’t fit back inside the pouch. At that point she’ll start to cuddle up with mum, only putting her head back inside the pouch to drink,” said Laura.

Tour groups have begun meeting Wanda and her joey at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they learn more about one of Australia’s most iconic species and how they are under threat from urban development and forestry breaking up their natural habitat.

Laura said it was important for people to watch out for Koalas on the roads at this time of year, particularly at dawn and dusk. “The quality of food declines during winter, so potentially you’ll see Koalas ranging further and closer to high-density areas to find leaves,” she said.

The Koala is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, in 2012, the Australian government listed Koala populations in Queensland and New South Wales as “Vulnerable”, due to a 40% population decline in Queensland and a 33% decline in New South Wales. Populations in Victoria and South Australia appear to be abundant; however, the Australian Koala Foundation argues that the exclusion of Victorian populations from protective measures is based on a misconception that the total Koala population is 200,000, whereas they believe it is probably less than 100,000.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Sooty Owl Chick Training for Bird Show


A very fluffy Lesser Sooty Owl chick has recently joined the Free Flight Bird Show team, at Taronga Zoo. At the moment, he looks more like a ball of fluff than an owl, but soon the nine-week-old male will be fully fledged and ready to fly.



11160040_919991424730416_4981664247546811123_oPhoto Credits: Taronga Zoo

The chick, named ‘Griffin’, arrived at Taronga from Featherdale Wildlife Park and is being hand-raised by Bird Show Supervisor, Matt Kettle, who says that the chick was a big hit when he started taking him home.

“As soon as I walked in the door with him and set him down in his box, my four year old daughter came up and started telling him a story. At home he stretches out in my lap while I watch TV and I give him a bit of a scratch. While nice for us, this is actually part of his training. This human interaction is important as he’ll be doing encounters and flying in the show one day, so it’s essential that he’s prepared for anything,” said Matt.

Griffin is growing up fast and is already starting to lose his fluffy down feathers. Matt continued, “Like most babies, he spends most of his time sleeping, but he’s starting to explore his surroundings more, and he’s jumping off things getting ready to fly.”

Sooty Owls are Australia’s most nocturnal species of owl, preferring very dark and dense rainforest habitat. Lesser Sooty Owls, like Griffin, are found in Northern Queensland; however, the more common Greater Sooty Owl ranges from Sydney, Victoria and into Papua New Guinea. Despite their wide range of habitat, it is very rare to actually see one of these birds in the wild.

Matt said, “They are very, very secretive birds. They aren’t very common to see. Even people who go out searching for Sooty Owls in Sydney find them very hard to find.”

“That’s why it’s so special for Griffin to be here with us as an ambassador for his species, so people can come in and learn about these stunning owls, which also hunt rats and mice.”

Matt plans to start taking Griffin for walks around the Zoo, to continue his training getting used to people, and the youngster will soon be practicing flying in the Bird Show amphitheater. 

Taronga’s birds have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation through encounters at the Bird Show.


Bulldozer Can't Stop Baby Echidna

Newman (2)A baby Echidna is recovering at Australia’s Taronga Zoo after being seriously injured when its burrow was dug up by a bulldozer.

Newman (3)
Newman (11)Photo Credit:  Paul Fahy


Zoo keepers have taken on the role of surrogate mother to the baby Echidna, called a puggle, feeding it a special milk mixture from the palms of their hands.

The puggle was first brought to the zoo with a deep wound to the side of its body after its nursery burrow was accidentally dug up by a bulldozer in December.

Believed to have been just two months old when rescued, the Echidna required weeks of antibiotics, hand rearing and sleep in a temperature-controlled artificial burrow. 

The puggle – which is still too young for keepers to determine its gender –has doubled in size since February.  Dubbed ‘Newman’ after the Seinfeld character who shares its beady eyes, the puggle is finally feeding confidently.

Instead of having teats like other mammals, Echidnas have patches on their abdomen that excrete milk for their young to lap up.  Newman now eats steadily for about 40 minutes at a time, stopping only to blow milk out its nose. As adults, Echidnas use their sticky tongues to slurp up ants and termites.

Echidnas belong to a group of egg-laying mammals called monotremes, which are found only in Australia and New Guinea.  Their spiny coats are an effective defense against predators.  If their spines aren’t enough to keep them safe, Echidnas use their powerful claws to dig themselves into the earth, disappearing like a sinking ship.

See more photos of Newman below.

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A Wee Bit O’ Green for St. Patrick’s Day

Chameleon Hatchlings 1_Photo by Paul Fahy

Taronga Zoo has welcomed more than 20 baby Chameleons, with the last of three clutches of eggs hatching this past week. About 5 cm long, the hatchlings are the first born at the Zoo in over five years.

Chameleon Eggs_Photo by Lorinda Taylor (4)

Chameleon Eggs_Photo by Lorinda Taylor (5)

Chameleon Hatchling_Photo by Paul Fahy (1)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo/ Paul Fahy (Images: 1,4,5,6,7) ; Lorinda Taylor (Images: 2,3,8,9,10,11)

Currently housed in a special temperature-controlled area behind the scenes at Taronga’s Reptile World, the hatchlings have begun feeding on crickets and turning on a bright green color display for keepers.

Reptile supervisor, Michael McFadden said the Chameleons, which are native to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, would be mature and able to showcase their full color palette within a year.

“Veiled Chameleons are a visually amazing species that we’re fortunate to have at Taronga. While they’re not endangered, they do play an important educational role in helping us to get people excited about reptiles and reptile conservation,” said McFadden.

Normally a shade of green or brown while at rest, Veiled Chameleons can change color when frightened, courting or defending territory.  “You’ll see shades of green, yellow, aqua and even very dark brown or black depending on their temperature, mood and reproductive behavior. However, they don’t change color to match a particular background like you see in cartoons,” said Michael.

Built for a life in the trees, Veiled Chameleons also have zygodactyl feet that can easily grasp branches. Their eyes can rotate independently and look in two directions at once, and their tongue can project 1.5 times their body length to capture prey.

“They can literally look forwards and backwards at the same time, which enables them to be on the watch for predators and food at all times,” said McFadden.

Visitors to Taronga Zoo will be able to see these amazing adaptations in action when up to four of the new hatchlings go on display once they reach maturity. The remaining hatchlings will move to other Australian zoos and wildlife parks, once they reach 2-3 months of age.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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Rare Antelope Calf Born at Taronga Zoo

Bongo Calf (8)Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of an Eastern Bongo calf, one of the rarest antelope species in the world.

Bongo Calf (21)

Bongo Calf (7)

Bongo Calf (12)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

Born in the early hours on February 8th, the calf has had time to bond with its mother, off display, before coming out onto exhibit for the first time.

Keepers are yet to determine the sex of the calf, which is the third born to mother, ‘Djembe’, and father, ‘Ekundu’.

“Djembe is a fantastic, protective mother and cleaned the calf as soon as it was born. The calf has already learnt to follow its mother around and was very curious and energetic when exploring its exhibit for the first time,” said Ungulate Keeper, Tracy Roberts.

Tracy said the new calf was an important addition to the Australasian breeding program, helping to save the critically endangered species from extinction.

“Every birth of a healthy calf is important, with fewer than 100 of these gentle animals left in the wild. Sadly Eastern Bongo numbers have collapsed due to poaching, disease and destruction of their native habitat in Kenya’s highlands,” she said.

Taronga is also helping to protect Bongos in the wild through its support of the Bongo Surveillance Project in the highlands of central Kenya. The project monitors herds and individual Bongo movements using visual signs, camera traps and GPS equipment and also combats poaching activities by removing illegal traps and snares.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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Mom Happy to Have a Monkey on Her Back

Photo by Lisa RidleyTaronga Zoo has a new addition to their Squirrel Monkey family! The tiny male can be seen holding tight to his mother ‘Lena’s’ back as she leaps around the exhibit.

Photo by Madeleine Smitham (3)

Photo by Madeleine Smitham

Photo by Madeleine Smitham (2)Photo Credits: Lisa Ridley (Images 1,5); Madeleine Smitham (Images 2,3,4,6)

The weeks-old youngster has been named ‘Julio’, and keepers say he and Lena are doing extremely well.

This is the first infant to be born out of the introduction of Taronga’s male, ‘Chico’, to 12 female Squirrel Monkeys from France, last year, through the regional breeding program.

Primate keeper, Suzie Lemon, says, “Lena and baby are doing amazingly well. A lot of the female Squirrel Monkeys have been interacting with the baby, and our two oldest Squirrel Monkeys, ‘Ayaca’ and ‘Squirius’, have been showing a lot of interest by vocalizing at him and rubbing up against him.”

Julio is developing very quickly. “He has already been seen climbing on ropes by himself with all four legs, with just his tail holding onto mum.

“In the next few weeks we’ll see other females start to carry him around and nanny him a bit, then he’ll slowly start to explore on his own,” said Suzie.

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Help Name Taronga Zoo’s Bilby Joey

Bilby Joey Health Check 1

Taronga Zoo is asking the public for help in naming one of its first-ever Bilby joeys!

Bilby Joey Health Check 5

Bilby Joey Health Check 6

Bilby Joey Health Check 4Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo (Images 1,2,3,4); Robert Dockerill (Images 5,6,7,8); Auspic (Image 9)

The Zoo announced the birth of the two joeys in December, capping off an exciting year that saw The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially open its new Bilby exhibit named in honor of their son, Prince George.

The Bilby youngsters had their first hands-on health check last week, with keepers confirming the pair are both female.

Taronga launched a public naming competition, a few days ago, for one of the two joeys on its Facebook and Instagram pages, calling for suggestions that reflect the joey’s native habitat. Keepers have already named one of the girls ‘Tanami’ after the Tanami Desert, which is home to fragmented populations of the Greater Bilby.

“We’ll be looking for a very Australian name, but not ‘Bruce’ or ‘Sheila’,” Bilby Keeper, Paul Davies said jokingly.

“It would be wonderful to find a name that reflects this beautiful Bilby’s natural habitat, which has sadly declined due to the introduction of farm animals and predators such as feral foxes and cats.”

Mr. Davies said the births have also helped build on the incredible exposure generated by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Taronga in April 2014.

“You could even say the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought us good luck, as it’s after their visit that we've been able to breed Bilbies for the very first time,” he said.

The Bilby (also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot) is a rabbit-like marsupial. It lives in deserts, dry forests, dry grasslands, and dry shrubby areas in Australia. The Bilby's pouch faces backwards. These big-eared, burrowing mammals are in danger of extinction.

More great pics, below the fold!

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