Healesville Sanctuary keepers are seeing red after the first of three Red Kangaroo joeys popped her head out of mum's pouch yesterday, just in time for Mother's Day. And Sunday Herald Sun readers have a chance to name her!
Mum Tinka had a very rough start to life. She was found on the side of the road, out of her dead mother's pouch, by a woman holidaying through the Northern Territory. The woman bought her back to Victoria and fed her on cornflakes and Vegemite sandwiches until she got too big to handle. She then brought Tinka to Healesville Sanctuary.
"It's amazing that Tinka is alive because joeys need a specific type of kangaroo milk and also need to be fed every hour," Dr Rupert Baker, Senior Veterinarian, Australian Wildlife Health Centre, Healesville Sanctuary said. "The woman who found Tinka had the best intentions but wildlife carers are trained to look after them and there's a lot of skill involved; that's why it's illegal for people look after wildlife."
Perhaps Tinka's tragic loss of her own mother at such a young, vulnerable age makes her very own joey all the more special for staff at Healesville Sanctuary.
"Tinka's joey is about five and a half months old and, although she hasn't been seen out of the pouch yet, we're expecting that to happen any day now," Healesville Sanctuary's zookeeper Sue Jaensch said.
She will spend more and more time out of the pouch and wean at about one year but will stay close to Mum Tinka for at least a year or so.
"We have two more joeys in pouches at the moment who are three and a little over four months old, so it's an exciting time," Sue explained. We'll have lots of gorgeous joeys bouncing around the kangaroo exhibit soon."
Red Kangaroo females are pregnant for 30–32 days, and can put a pregnancy on hold if they already have a young in the pouch. Joeys are the size of a jelly bean, blind and have no fur when they are born.
To name Tinka's joey, keepers are keen to retain a "red" theme for all the female Red Kangaroos on display. Currently Healesville Sanctuary has Rosie, Bella, Ruby and Scarlet.
The winner will win a family pass for four to Healesville Sanctuary as well as a Magic Moment with the Kangaroos.
So get naming for your chance to win.