Animal Diaries Archive
Which roo is that?
26 August 2005At Australia Zoo we have 70 kangaroos and wallabies, and each of them is named. At the moment I am training Claudia to know them all. This training consists of daily pop quizzes as we walk through the enclosures. I remember when I first started how daunting it was to think that I had to remember each and every one of them; however, Claudia is doing an amazing job.
Each kangaroo has its own characteristics and as soon as you know them it is all smooth sailing. For the people who do not work with our kangaroos on a regular basis, trying to remember their names can be very difficult.
Therefore, a method of identifying each one was produced. Other Zoos and sanctuaries do this by chipping or tagging the animals' ears. However we find that ear tags are not very attractive (and can get snagged on items around the exhibit,) and the chips cannot be distinguished without a special scanner (not much use for on-the-spot recognition). For these reasons we came up with nail polish. Yes, that is right - we paint our kangaroos' nails. Each kangaroo has a particular nail that is painted a particular colour. This is all recorded and if a person needs to identify a particular kangaroo all they need to do is look at the nail and look it up in the records. This procedure has been used at Australia Zoo for many years and hopefully it will continue for many more. I just have to make sure Claudia doesn't sneak a look at the kangaroos' nails while I quiz her!