CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Zoo welcomes another jumping bunch of Joey to its growing family of wallabies.
A baby Bennett’s wallaby, also known as a Joey, is expected to emerge from its mother Ava’s pouch in the coming months. Wallabies are marsupials, or marsupials, similar to kangaroos but much smaller.
What makes Ava’s pregnancy interesting is that she just had a joey in May and didn’t breed with any of the wallabies in Cincinnati. Is it a flawless performance? Zoo experts say there is an explanation.
Ava arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo in the spring of 2020, and the zookeepers discovered she was pregnant in May before giving birth to the tiny bag weeks later.
MORE: Like us, the zoo’s new baby wallaby will be spending the next few months indoors
But zookeepers and volunteers said none of the Cincinnati Zoo’s male wallabies could mate. So what happened
“It’s actually something really cool called embryonic diapause,” said Myra Bhatnagar, a wallaby volunteer.
Wallaby babies are born underdeveloped after a month and then crawl into their mother’s pouch to breastfeed and develop for several months. Due to the embryonic diapause, it is possible that the fertilized embryo was waiting for the new Joey behind Pocket to get their turn.
“She had this embryo in her womb, but it was just waiting for Pocket to be born so the next embryo could develop,” said Bhatnagar.
Because of this, experts say that some wallabies can be permanently pregnant.
Avas Joey has just opened his eyes and will likely be growing hair soon. Volunteers like Bhatnagar and other zoo staff are patiently waiting for it to come out of their pouch, which they first noticed was moving on December 23rd.
“It was our own little Christmas miracle here at the zoo, but it was actually the miracle of science,” she said of the early, surprising zoo baby for 2021.