WINNIPEG — Staff at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg are hopping to keep a baby red kangaroo alive after it was ejected from its mother’s pouch.
The four-month-old female weighs only 560 grams and was found lying helpless on the floor of the kangaroo enclosure.
Zoo officials say baby ’roos seldom survive outside the pouch at such a young age because they depend on their mother’s milk inside for up to a year.
Staff are feeding the joey formula every three hours to improve its chance of survival.
The baby, which has been named Rooby, spends most of the time sleeping in a soft towel in a cloth bag to mimic its mother’s pouch.
If Rooby survives, she will still need care for another eight months before she can be reunited with her kangaroo family.
The red kangaroo, native to most of Australia, is the world’s largest marsupial. Males can stand just over two metres tall and can reach a weight of 95 kilograms.
A female can breed continuously under good habitat conditions. That means she may have one embryo in the womb, a joey in the pouch and another needing care outside the pouch.
Baby kangaroos are born after a gestation of only 33 days and are just 2.5 centimetres long and weigh less than a gram when they enter the world.
The blind and naked joey must climb from the mother’s birth canal to the abdominal pouch and crawl inside.
The kangaroos, which hang out in groups called “mobs,” may live up to 25 years.