Royal Oak (WWJ) – Six red kangaroo joeys are growing by leaps and bounds – both in and out of their mothers’ pouches – at the Detroit Zoo’s Australian Outback Adventure.

Two females – Sheila, born in June 2011 to JoAnn, and Isa, born in August 2011 to Charlotte – can be seen exploring their habitat with the adult mob. The four youngest joeys, all still hidden in the pouch, were born in January and April of this year. Their genders and names will be determined when they emerge.

“It’s always a lot of fun to see a joey poke its head out of its mother’s pouch, and there will be plenty of opportunities for that in the coming weeks,” said Robert Lessnau, Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals. “Sheila and Isa are already hopping around and are easy to spot because of their size.”

Born the size of a jellybean, a joey will live in its mother’s pouch until it has developed and matured, emerging when it reaches about six months old. A female kangaroo can carry three offspring in different stages simultaneously: one out-of-pouch joey, one in-pouch joey and one dormant embryo, born once the eldest joey is independent. She can produce two types of milk at the same time for both the infant and the older joey.

Kangaroo Joey Isa and mom Charlotte by Mark M. Gaskill

Kangaroo Joey Isa and mom Charlotte (credit: Mark M. Gaskill/Detroit Zoo)

The red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) is the largest marsupial, or pouched mammal. The male has a reddish-brown coat with a white underside, and can grow up to 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds. The female is a bluish-grey color – earning her the nickname “blue flyer” – and only reaches about 3 feet tall and 30-40 pounds.

The Detroit Zoo’s Australian Outback Adventure is home to 18 red kangaroos, four red-necked wallabies and two emus. Visitors can get face to face with the marsupials from right inside their habitat, traveling along a winding path while the animals are free to bound and graze wherever they please.

We recommend that you listen to the song “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” while reading this article.

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