To keep cool on hot days, tree kangaroos pant, rest in the shade, and lick the fur on their arms.
Where at the Zoo
Where in the World
Matschie’s tree kangaroos are one of 13 species of kangaroo that spend most of their time in trees (arboreal). Powerful forelimbs and independent hind limbs make them agile climbers. Rubbery foot pads and curved claws give them extra traction and a firm grip. Unlike other kangaroos, they can hop or walk moving one limb then the other.
What They Eat
Where They Live
What They Do
How They’re Doing
Care at the Zoo
Training can be an important aspect of taking care of zoo animals. It improves animal care by allowing keepers and veterinarians to perform exams on animals without causing them extra stress. Female kangaroos are trained to allow keepers to perform a pouch check without having to physically hold the animal. To train her, positive reinforcement is used to shape the behavior until finally the female goes to a specified location and allows the keeper to open the pouch and look inside with a small flashlight. Favorite treats, like bananas, yams, and cantaloupe, help speed up training. Having a female’s cooperation during pouch checks allows keepers to determine if she has a joey without causing her needless stress.Understanding the biological and behavioral needs of animals in zoos is very important. Enrichment gives animals the opportunity to respond to changes in their environment. Our tree kangaroos are given enrichment through a variety of foods, including fresh bamboo, willow, raspberry, and their favorite-banana leaves. Other sensory forms of enrichment include spices and extracts, and rubber toys to manipulate.
New Guinea and the surrounding islands make up the largest remaining tropical wilderness in the Asia-Pacific region. Tree kangaroo populations are currently threatened by overhunting, and habitat lost due to agriculture, logging, oil exploration, and mining.
Since 1996, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) has been working in Papua New Guinea to promote the conservation of tree kangaroos and their habitat. Through field research, educational outreach, and habitat protection, the TKCP enlists the help of the local villagers to carry out conservation programs. In return, villagers learn to manage their natural resources sustainably.
The Minnesota Zoo has supported the TKCP both financially and in the field. In addition, we have contributed funds for the publication of the Tree Kangaroo Husbandry Manual, a comprehensive care guide available to zoos and conservation organizations worldwide.
The Minnesota Zoo, in partnership with other North American Zoos, is working to maintain genetic diversity in captive populations, provide conservation education, protect native habitats, and conduct field research in order to help save this rare and endangered species.