Animal Diaries Archive
22 February 2008
There are 49 species of Macropod or 'kangaroos and wallaby' in Australia. At Australia Zoo, we have two enclosures that are home to our representatives of 9 of those species. In our “Roo Heavens” we have three different types of kangaroo and six types of wallabies that you are free to walk among and talk to. These range from the largest, the Red Kangaroo, down to our shy little pademelons and rock wallabies.
Working with the Macropods helps us appreciate all their differences and the uniqueness of each animal.
The Red Kangaroo is the largest marsupial in the world, with males able to grow up to 8ft (2.4m) tall and weigh as much as 90kg. These Roo’s live throughout central and Western Australia, and people are often confused by the bluish-grey colour of the female’s fur, expecting them to be more of the bright orange-red of the central Australia sands.
As their name suggests, the Eastern Grey kangaroo lives across Eastern Australia, from North Queensland, all the way down to Tasmania. Smaller than their red cousins, they have a grey-brown coat and can travel quite fast with one being clocked at over 60km/h. If you have ever seen kangaroos grazing on your local golf course at dawn or dusk, they were probably Eastern Greys.One very special girl in our Grey Roo enclosure is Tara, she is our only Western Grey kangaroo, and is a darker brown colour than most of our other kangaroos. This species is the only macropod that doesn’t exhibit embryonic diapause, which is the ability to control the development of a developing embryo, putting it ‘on hold’ until environmental conditions are more favourable for the young to survive.
We have a number of wallabies who people often mistake for joeys or young kangaroos, simply because of their smaller size. Our larger wallabies including Red-necked, Black-striped, Agile, and Swamp Wallabies, are quite friendly and like eating special roo food from visitors. Our smaller ones, the Black-footed Rock Wallabies and Red-legged Pademelons, are very shy and spotting them among the trees or on the rocks is definitely worth keeping your eyes open for. Wallabies generally eat more leaves and herbaceous plants, and therefore spend more of their time along the creek banks and in amongst the trees, than the kangaroos. Each type of wallaby have own identifying colours, markings and habits, so it does become quite easy to tell them apart.
Next time you visit the Zoo, please take the time to wander with our amazing kangaroos and wallabies, and try to spot all nine species that we have for you to see. And remember... Roo’s Rule!