Last week Busch Gardens guests got to see Tally the Red Kangaroo come into the Animal Care Center from her home at Walkabout Way for a check-up with Dr. Cole. Tally had developed a strange lump under her jaw which concerned the veterinarian staff. An x-ray was taken of Tally’s jaw to reveal an abscess in one of Tally’s bottom incisor teeth, signaling an infection. A biopsy was performed to drain the bacterial fluid from the tooth and cultures were quickly sent off to identify what find of infection had developed so an appropriate treatment could be decided.
Tally began receiving antibiotic treatments and was brought in for another x-ray to see what progress the medicine was making. Dr. Cole explained that it was very important for the treatment to work because the incisors are very large and create a significant part of the kangaroo’s jaw. If they had to remove the tooth, it would cause the Tally to lose a good amount of jaw functionality and it is likely she wouldn’t be able to crop grass anymore.
While under anesthesia for the x-ray, the vets also examined the rest of Tally’s body for abnormalities. And when they looked in the pouch, guess what they found?! A baby!
A baby kangaroo, or joey, was developing inside Tally’s pouch. This image is not what most people expect to see when they hear “baby kangaroo.” That’s because kangaroos have a very special reproduction process. At typically only a month old, a kangaroo baby is “birthed” looking like a squishy red lima bean. They have barely developed forelegs which they use to crawl up from the mother’s abdomen and into the pouch where they latch on. It takes about six months for that joey to grow big enough to start coming out of the mother’s pouch, so we were able to snap this photo sometime in the middle of that six month development stage.
Kangaroo pregnancies are no surprise to the keepers as many female kangaroos will spend most of their lives pregnant in the wild. But it did come as a surprise to our guests when Dr. Cole wheeled Tally up to the glass viewing wall of the Animal Care Center, motioned for everyone to come closer, and opened up Tally’s pouch for everyone to see the joey. The expressions ranged from sheer amazement, to excitement, to “Eww… what is that?”
Tally's check-up confirmed that the infection has been stabilized. She and the baby should be just fine and will return to Walkabout Way as soon as mom has healed.
Want to see all of our kangaroo pals up close? Hop on over to Walkabout Way where you can check out three different species of kangaroos, as well as wallabies, wallaroos, emus, and more! You might even a couple new friends if you purchase a cup of ‘roo’ food or have the opportunity to bottle feed the joeys at certain time throughout the day.
There’s always cool and exciting stuff happening at the Animal Care Center and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay! Grab an Annual Passport or Fun Card today so you can catch the fun and excitement all year long.
Photos by Katie McMichen