The Outback in your backyard

Red Kangaroo

By Jeffrey Buck

It’s a great time to visit the Australian Outback Adventure at the Detroit Zoo. With two females born last year – Sheila, in June and Isa, in August – four young joeys born this year are still hidden in their mother’s pouch. The genders and names of those joeys will be determined once they emerge.

A joey starts out as the size of a jellybean and lives inside its mother’s pouch until it has developed and matured. Joeys tend to emerge from out of the pouch around six months old. Female Kangaroos are able to carry three offspring simultaneously at a time but in different stages: one out-of-pouch joey, one in-pouch joey and one dormant embryo, born once the eldest joey is independent.  She can produce two types of milk at the same time for both the infant and the older joey.

“It’s always a lot of fun to see a joey poke its head out of its mother’s pouch, and there will be plenty of opportunities for that in the coming weeks,” said Robert Lessnau, Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals.  “Sheila and Isa are already hopping around and are easy to spot because of their size.”

The Detroit Zoo is home to 18 red kangaroos that roam free within the Outback Adventure. Visitors can get up close and personal with them by walking through the winding path through their habitat. Here are some quick facts about these fascinating animals:

  • The largest marsupial, or pouched mammal.
  • Males have a reddish-brown coat with a white underside.
  • Females are a bluish-grey color
  • Males can grow to up to 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds.
  • Females can weigh up to 40 pounds and grow only to be about 3 feet tall.
  • Females are known as the “blue flyer.”

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General Information:

The Detroit Zoological Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo.  Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats, the Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak, Mich.  The Detroit Zoo is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day (with extended hours until 8 p.m. Wednesdays during July and August), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March.  Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free).  The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  Admission is free.  For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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