Researchers celebrate rare tree kangaroo birth

August 17, 2015
Researchers celebrate rare kangaroo birth

University of Queensland researchers and Dreamworld staff are celebrating the birth of one of Australia's rarest species of tree kangaroo.

Mupee is the first Lumholtz to be born into Dreamworld's Australasian captive management program.

UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences reproductive biologist Dr Tamara Keeley worked with Dreamworld staff to investigate potential breeding problems in a female Lumholtz tree kangaroo.

Dreamworld staff collected tree kangaroo poo samples for Dr Keeley, who has used non-invasive endocrinology tests to monitor wildlife over the past 13 years.

Dr Keeley said the Lumholtz tree kangaroo had different patterns of reproduction to wallabies and other kangaroos, and was more difficult to breed.

"Little was known about fertility of this cryptic, solitary, tree-dwelling , which has a relatively low reproduction rate with more than a year between the birth of single offspring," Dr Keeley said.

"We were able to give Dreamworld an estimate of when the next fertile period was likely to occur, which helped improve the likelihood of success for mating," she said.

"I found that initially there was an abnormally long cycle length between times of fertility in this animal.

"This is something that has never been reported in the literature for any species of tree kangaroo, and it overturns what we knew about reproduction in the Lumholtz tree kangaroo."

Dr Keeley said hormonal testing was a valuable tool for scientists. 

"With just a single poo sample we can safely monitor our native animal populations without stressing them or changing their normal routines," she said.

The Lumholtz tree kangaroo population is declining, with only an estimated 10,000 left in the wild.

Dreamworld Life Sciences General Manager Al Mucci said there was only a small window of fertility for Lumholtz tree kangaroos, limiting their chances for mating success.

"We needed a non-invasive way to detect whether the tree kangaroo was at the right stage of the reproductive cycle to be receptive to males," Mr Mucci said.

"Dreamworld's collaborative relationship with UQ highlights the important work being done in this area at both institutions."

The Lumholtz tree kangaroo is one of only two known Australian species of tree kangaroo, both found in Far North Queensland, and is the smallest tree kangaroo of the 14 species in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Explore further: Rare case of wallaby fostering tree kangaroo in pouch

Related Stories

Rainforest essential for world's smallest kangaroo

May 5, 2014

( —The discovery of musky rat-kangaroo fossils has prompted experts to call for better protection of tropical rainforests after new links show the tiny marsupial cannot survive outside that environment.

Hotspot reveals new kangaroo paws

October 23, 2013

Two new species of kangaroo paw have been discovered in WA's biodiversity hotspot – the south-west of Australia – thanks to DNA sequencing.

New DNA test on roo poo identifies species

June 6, 2013

( —University of Adelaide researchers have developed a simple and cost-effective DNA test to identify kangaroo species from their droppings which will boost the ability to manage and conserve kangaroo populations.

Endangered kangaroo prefers 'the girl next door'

January 29, 2013

(—A group of leading conservation scientists from The University of Queensland (UQ) and James Cook University (JCU) has exposed the private life of a small, endangered kangaroo.

Recommended for you

Re-cloning of first cloned dog deemed successful thus far

November 22, 2017

(—A team of researchers with Seoul National University, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has re-cloned the first dog to be cloned. In their paper published in the journal ...

Testing the advantage of being left-handed in sports

November 22, 2017

(—Sports scientist Florian Loffing with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Oldenburg in Germany has conducted a study regarding the possibility of left-handed athletes having an advantage over their ...

New discovery: Common jellyfish is actually two species

November 21, 2017

University of Delaware professor Patrick Gaffney and alumnus Keith Bayha, a research associate with the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, have determined that a common sea nettle jellyfish is actually two ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.