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Melbourne Zoo

Kangaroo Island Kangaroo

The Kangaroo Island mob at Melbourne Zoo are one of the many marsupial species native to Australia.

They are native to Kangaroo Island in South Australia, where winters can be cold, so they have a thicker and denser fur than species found in warmer parts of the continent.

At Melbourne Zoo, they live near the Koalas and the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats in the Australia Bush area.

They’re a highly social species, living in mobs with a dominant male as leader.

Having a chance to meet them is one of the most popular of the close-up encounters in the visitor experience program, so visitors are advised to book the experience in advance of visiting.

The Kangaroo Island species is a medium-sized macropod, the term used to classify all kangaroo and wallaby species.

It is a sub-species of the Western Gray Kangaroo. They’re shorter and stockier than the Red Kangaroos on view at Healesville Sanctuary, but considerably larger than all the wallaby species.

The females weigh from 20kg to 30kg and males can grow up to about 70 kg.

Individuals in the wild are subject to the threat of dog attacks and road accidents, but there are no large predators on Kangaroo Island, which Keepers say is probably the reason why this species is more relaxed and curious by nature.

Keepers working closely with the Kangaroo Isand Kangaroos say that they are really placid and friendly, quite calm around people, and quite curious as well.

Their diet includes hay, pellets of mixed grains, carrots, and browse, which is leafy branches. They prefer the bark to the leaves!

The tiny newborns only spend 31 days in the womb, then when they’re about the size of a jelly bean they crawl from the birth canal up to the pouch.

They attach to a teat and continue to grow for about 40 weeks in the pouch. After about six months they will venture out briefly before permanently leaving the pouch after 40 to 45 weeks. By then, the previously jelly bean-sized baby weighs about six kilograms!

Kangaroo Island is a lush environment, so this species is not subject to the potential food shortages which can affect other kangaroo species in harsher environments, which is believed to be the reason why the Kangaroo Isand Kangaroos have not developed the amazing adaptation known as ‘diapause’ where mothers can essentially put an embryo's development ‘on hold’ if necessary.

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Close-up Encounters

Melbourne Zoo's Close-up Encounters will bring you face-to-face with some of our zoo's most popular personalities.

Like other macropods, this species can have a joey at foot and a new joey in the pouch, providing different strengths of milk for each of them.