SF Zoo baby wallaby emerges
The San Francisco Zoo’s baby red-necked wallaby has started taking its first hops outside its mother’s pouch.
Born in September, the young marsupial — or “joey” — lives in the SF Zoo’s Australian Walkabout exhibit along with kangaroos and an emu.
According to a press release from the zoo, wallaby joeys are born as partly developed embryos that live in their mother’s pouches for months, nursing and growing before they are ready to venture out on their own.
Red-necked wallabies, often confused as small kangaroos, are medium-sized marsupials that live primarily in Australia. They can grow up to three feet tall, weigh between 25 to 60 pounds and reach adult size at five years of age. Red-necked wallabies are considered the largest of the wallaby species and can live in the wild about 15 years. They are primarily solitary animals but will come together as a group when food, water and shelter are in abundance. They spend most of the daytime resting in vegetation.
Red-necked wallabies are commonly thought of as pouched mammals because they give “live birth,” which means their offspring is essentially born a helpless embryo that must climb up through the mother’s birth canal to her nipples to nurse. Babies remain in the pouch for approximately six months during which they will start poking their heads out to explore their surroundings. Young red-necked wallabies typically leave the pouch between 40 to 43 weeks after birth and will be “parked” in a hidden location for about a month while the mother feeds. From there, the young animal will continue nursing up to another nine months.