25 Jan 2023

Check out the amazing moment the adorable joey emerged from mum Kitawa’s pouch for the very first time!

The birth is a huge step forward for the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo conservation breeding programme, which is working to protect this highly threatened species from extinction.

We’re one of only two zoos in the UK caring for Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos, and this is the first time we’ve bred the species in our 91-year history. In a bid to discover more about the elusive creatures, we’ve documented the growth of the joey using a special endoscope camera carefully placed into Kitawa’s pouch every few weeks.

This is a real celebratory moment for the team and our efforts to protect this highly endangered species. With little being known about these shy and elusive creatures, we’re in a unique position to be able to capture and document the whole process around the development of Kitawa’s joey.

Dave White, Twighlight Team Manager

Dave continued to say…

“Tree kangaroos have one of the most complex birthing processes in the animal kingdom. When a joey is first born it’s only the size of a jellybean and is incredibly underdeveloped. Moments after the birth, with eyes still tightly closed, the joey knows to instinctively crawl up mum’s belly and into her pouch – following a channel which she has marked out by licking her fur. Once safely in the pouch, the baby receives all of the nutrition it needs while it grows and develops for a further six months – up until it starts to pop its head out.

“The new baby will soon emerge from the pouch fully and begin hopping around and learning to climb trees, under the watchful eye of mum. That’s when we’ll be able to determine if it’s male or female and give the youngster a fitting name.”

Much smaller than the well known Australian kangaroo species, the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo is a tree-dwelling marsupial, using their their strong limbs for climbing and tails for balance. The species is native to the mountainous rainforests of Papua New Guinea where they are under threat from hunting and habitat destruction – losing more than half of its population in the last 30 years.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the species as Endangered in the wild – with conservationists calling for more close monitoring of the animals in their native range.

Dave added:

“These remarkable animals have suffered tremendously in the wild. They are hunted for their meat and their habitat is disappearing around them as forests are cleared for timber and to make way for coffee and rice plantations.

“We work closely with our partners and local communities in areas of South East Asia to make sustainable farming practices the norm, helping to prevent further deforestation across the region while protecting what’s left of the precious forests – home to many of the world’s most threatened species, like the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo.”

Tree kangaroo fact file:

• They have a long tail to give added balance when jumping
• Their long curved claws and rubbery soles help with grip when climbing
• Strong, stocky arms help them to climb and grasp onto tree trunks


Take home your very own adorable tree kangaroo! Suitable for all ages, this super soft toy is completely bespoke to Chester Zoo. It’s made with sustainable materials including recycled rPET filling and the plastic tag has been replaced with cotton.


You can act now and support our work to protect endangered species like our Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos here at the zoo and our conservation projects around the world.