Head first into a new world: Rare tree kangaroo pops out of mother's pouch at Singapore Zoo

A male joey popped his head out of his mother's pouch to greet visitors yesterday at the Singapore Zoo.

Born earlier this year on Feb 4, the joey is a Goodfellow's tree kangaroo, one of the rarest animals in zoos around the world.

With the arrival of this minuscule marsupial, the global population of this species under human care now stands at just 58.

The yet-to-be-named joey was born to first-time parents Makaia and Nupela (left).

As with all marsupials, tree kangaroos are born in an almost embryonic state after a gestation period of about 40 days.

The jellybean-sized newborn has to make an arduous crawl into the mother's pouch, where the rest of his development takes place. Only about eight months later will the joey emerge from the pouch completely and take his first steps.

Nupela's dedicated care team at the zoo witnessed the birth and the joey's crawl into his mother's pouch.

The bond and trust between mum and her keepers allow daily checks on Nupela's pouch to monitor the baby's growth and record significant developments.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline 'Head first into a new world'. Print Edition | Subscribe