A new roo at the zoo

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Roger Williams Park Zoo has announced the birth of a Matschie’s tree kangaroo. This is the first tree roo birth at the Zoo in over 20 years, and one of only three that were born in captivity in the U.S. over the last year. Tree roos are an endangered species, and are part of RWP Zoo’s Species Survival Program — a cooperative breeding program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that aims to rehabilitate endangered and threatened species populations.

Indigenous to the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, it is estimated that there are less than 2,500 Matschie’s tree kangaroos left in the wild, because of factors like habitat loss due to logging and mining, as well as hunting. Currently, there are only 53 tree roos in the U.S. living in captivity, and seven in international facilities.

Along with their tree roo breeding program, the RWP Zoo has also supported and worked with the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) since its inception. The TKCP is an organization with the mission of establishing an officially recognized conservation area in Papua New Guinea for tree roos to live without human interference.

Zoo keepers discovered that their female tree kangaroo was pregnant after the announcement of the plans to build a new tree roo exhibit in the Australasia building by spring 2014. “The first six months after birth is a critical time for both mother and baby. For this reason, we have put construction of the new exhibit on hold until late June 2014,” said Zoo Executive Director, Dr. Jeremy Goodman, DVM. The exhibit will feature indoor and outdoor viewing areas with easy access for the animals between both spaces, giving guests a much improved view of the animals. Opening of the new exhibit is planned for early fall.

Until the exhibit is completed, images of the baby roo’s development in the pouch will be displayed in the Australasia building so Zoo visitors can appreciate the baby’s first months of life.

Visit the new roo (or his pictures, anyway) at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit rwpzoo.org.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.