Curious Wallaby Joey Leaves Mother's Pouch to Explore the Outside World

- A seven-month-old Parma wallaby joey at the San Diego Zoo is now out of its mother's pouch and is checking out its habitat for the first time. Animal care staff watched the youngster hop around the enclosure this morning, often moving away from mother and traveling around on its own. The baby -- born in March -- spent more than half a year in the pouch before leaving it just a few days ago.

This is the first Joey born to four-year-old Tinka, who was hand-raised by Zoo staff. Keepers say Tinka has been a great mom, always making sure her pouch was clean; and she now stays close to her baby, in case it gets hungry. It's unknown yet whether the joey is a boy or a girl, but animal care staff says they will confirm the gender when they weigh the joey, around its first birthday.

Parma wallabies are marsupials that are native to Australia and New Guinea, found in wet forests with dense undergrowth, near grassy areas. A close relative to kangaroos, these creatures are often mistaken for a smaller version of their popular cousins.

There are brush, scrub, swamp, forest and rock wallabies, which gives some clue as to the vastly different habitats these creatures call home. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has named the Parma wallaby a "near threatened" species, with less than 10,000 mature individuals existing worldwide. The species faces a number of environmental threats, including wild dogs, foxes and feral cats, which are its top predators, as well as human development that has contributed to habitat loss.

Visitors can see the newly emerged joey, mother Tinka and their other wallaby friends in the San Diego Zoo's Australian Outback exhibit.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children's hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

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