'Miracle' Aussie orphaned tree kangaroo ready for move to Singapore Zoo

Makaia, a "miracle" orphaned tree kangaroo, will arrive from the Adelaide Zoo.
Makaia, a "miracle" orphaned tree kangaroo, will arrive from the Adelaide Zoo.PHOTO: ADELAIDE ZOO

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Zoo will welcome a new member next week when Makaia, a "miracle" orphaned tree kangaroo, arrives from Adelaide.

In a media release on Monday (June 27), the Adelaide Zoo said Makaia will undergo final health checks from its veterinary team in preparation for the transfer.

In Singapore, he will be paired with a female Goodfellow's tree kangaroo from Taronga Zoo and hopefully start a family of his own.

Goodfellow's tree kangaroos inhabit the rainforests of New Guinea and is a distant relative of the kangaroo and wallaby. The species lives in trees and rarely descends to the ground.

Makaia made global headlines in November 2014 when - in a world-first for conservation - he was adopted by a wallaby after his mother, Kia, died when he was seven weeks old.

Makaia, in the pouch of a wallaby, at the Adelaide Zoo. PHOTO: ADELAIDE ZOO

Adelaide Zoo keepers and veterinarians saved Makaia's life utilising a surrogate yellow-footed rock-wallaby mother - a technique never before attempted with a tree kangaroo.

Cross-fostering, a special breeding technique that Adelaide Zoo began pioneering in the 1990s, involves the transfer of endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species.

This accelerates the breeding cycle of the original wallaby, allowing the female to increase its reproduction rate up to six or eight times in some species.

Makaia was adopted by a wallaby after his mother, Kia, died when he was seven weeks old. PHOTO: ADELAIDE ZOO

Makaia stayed with his wallaby mum for about three and half months until he became too big for her pouch and a keeper took over caring for him.

Adelaide Zoo's senior veterinarian, Dr Ian Smith, said: "We couldn't be happier with how he has grown and developed. It's now time for him to start his next chapter and we're confident he's going to do really well.

"He is extremely genetically valuable for the region and we are hopeful he will form an important part of the international breeding program working to save this endangered species from extinction."


Makaia even has his own children's book, Makaia's Story, which chronicles his amazing journey thus far.

Adelaide Zoo natives team leader Gayl Males, who has been with Makaia since the beginning, said: "He has earned himself a special place in the hearts of the zoo's staff and visitors with his cheeky personality and amazing strength.

"Of course we will be sad to see Makaia go, but we're incredibly proud of what we have achieved as a zoo and to have been able to give him a chance at a wonderful life where he can make a real difference to the conservation of his wild cousins."

Adelaide Zoo is hopeful of welcoming another Goodfellow's tree kangaroo joey to the family, with Makaia's dad, Makali, and female Buna remaining under its care.