Growing Joeys

If you’ve stopped by the red kangaroo yard at the Antelope & Zebra Area recently, you may have noticed that one of the kangaroos looks smaller than the rest. This mini marsupial is actually a new joey, who’s recently made his way out of the pouch.

Red kangaroo Jack is the latest joey out of the pouch at the zoo's Antelope & Zebra Area.

Red kangaroo Jack is the latest joey out of the pouch at the zoo's Antelope & Zebra Area.

The new arrival was technically born December 9. As you’d expect, though, timing a kangaroo joey’s birth can be tricky business. Each new arrival emerges from the womb in a near-fetal state and spends months growing inside mom’s pouch. Arms and legs eventually emerge, seemingly testing the waters outside before the joey pokes its head out and finally ventures out to explore.

Knowing this growing joey—a male—was due to make his appearance soon, we asked guests at our May Members-Only Morning to submit names for the new arrival. The winning choice, Jack, was offered by 9-year-old Olivia Holness of Chicago.

Why Jack? From Olivia’s perspective, it was “a cool name,” one enhanced by her appreciation for the movie “Kangaroo Jack.” Our animal care experts liked the link to the Union Jack element of Australia’s flag. It probably didn’t hurt that Olivia claimed kangaroos as her favorite animal, saying, “they protect, they punch, they jump far and they are very interesting.”

Jack isn’t the only joey named by friends of the zoo. His older sister, Coco, born last May, received her name in a contest with the Waukegan School District.

Born last May, Coco is the oldest joey at the Antelope & Zebra Area.

Born last May, Coco is the oldest joey at the Antelope & Zebra Area.

A zoo donor, in partnership with United Way, invited elementary school students to name the joey. Whittier Elementary’s second-grade class came up with “Coco,” inspired both by Australia’s Cocos Islands and the species’ cocoa-like coloration. The class came to visit the mob in May, right around the time Jack started peeking his head out.

The Whittier Elementary class visited Coco and the rest of the red kangaroo mob this spring.

The Whittier Elementary class visited Coco and the rest of the red kangaroo mob this spring.

As it turns out, though, Jack isn’t even the newest arrival for the kangaroo mob. A younger joey, gender still unknown, has started peeking its head out of the pouch of female Anna, who is also Coco’s mother. This new arrival should start making its own excursions out of the pouch soon enough, making the kangaroo yard a hopping place as all these growing joeys find their legs.

The youngest joey, gender still undetermined, pokes its head out of the pouch.

The youngest joey, gender still undetermined, pokes its head out of the pouch.

Lincoln Park Zoo will also be hopping this Friday as the Women’s Board hosts its elegant annual fundraiser. Zoo Ball, Monkey Business, Presented by Guggenheim, is a tribute to the Japanese snow monkeys that will be sharing their cool culture at the zoo when the new, state-of-the-art Regenstein Macaque Forest opens this fall.

Zoo Ball is always a highlight of the summer calendar. This Friday’s event, chaired by Katie Gledhill and Caroline Huebner, will be no exception. I look forward to putting on my tux and welcoming the guests who do so much to support Chicago’s free zoo.

Kevin Bell


Learn More

Red kangaroo joey at Lincoln Park Zoo

VIDEO: Jumping Joey!
Red kangaroo joey Coco climbs out of mom’s pouch for a quick hop around the family’s outdoor yard at the Antelope & Zebra Area in December 2013.

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