LANSING, Mich. (AP) — When Roothie the red kangaroo arrived at Potter Park Zoo in May 2017, zookeepers knew there was a chance she could be pregnant.
And she was.
“We noticed her pouch was getting bigger in November, and that’s usually about 100ish days in,” Potter Park Zoo zookeeper Ashleigh Winkelmann told the Lansing State Journal .
“We saw the pouch move so we backtracked and guestimate that the joey was born in August at some point.”
The joey — that’s what you call a baby kangaroo — was the size of a jelly bean when it was born.
“They crawl into their mother’s pouch and essentially latch onto a teat and just nurse and develop,” Winkelmann said.
When the joey starts coming out of the pouch, it is about 150 days old.
Zookeepers are working on getting it used to their presence. They still don’t know if it’s a boy or girl or exactly how big it is. An estimate (based on its estimated age) is 8 to 10 kilograms.
On a sunny Monday afternoon, the joey was out with the rest of the mob, the name for a group of kangaroos. They were lying around, enjoying the sunshine, observing the zoo patrons.
The joey was hanging out with Bernie, one of the male kangaroos. It rolled around, groomed itself and watched its surroundings.
“They like to roll on their backs,” Winkelmann said. “It’s a good indication that they’re relaxed and not stressed out right now.”
Then it jumped up and hopped around the enclosure, showing off some impressive speed before returning to Bernie.
A few minutes later, when a zookeeper aide came out of one of the stalls the kangaroos have access to, the joey jumped up again and watched curiously until she disappeared. The other kangaroos were nonplussed.
The red kangaroos arrived together from St. Louis. The gray kangaroo, Oscar, came from another zoo in California.
There are three males, two reds named Bernie and Donald and one gray named Oscar; two female reds, Roothie and Hilary; and the unknown joey, which hasn’t been named yet.
The joey is trying solid foods. It eats greens and produce, and has been seen eating hay, but it’s still nursing, too.
“I’ve seen the baby boxing a lot,” said zoo communications manager Kaiti Chritz. “But it’s not an aggressive boxing. And I’ve seen the joey (hop) once, and he did a big circle around the yard.
“He is so fast. He just goes. He’s very curious and interested in his environment. He just kind of investigates everything. When he first started coming out of the pouch, there was still snow on the ground, so all of this is just brand new.”
Potter Park Zoo also recently received three suri alpaca, Mac, Frank and Lola, which are now on display in the farmyard next to the Guinea hog.