NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There aren’t many exhibits at a zoo where you can actually go inside and pet the animals. However, that’s exactly what you can do with the roos inside the Kangaroo Kickabout at Nashville Zoo.
Nashville Zoo Primary Contact Keeper, Kelly Wisner, introduced News 2 to the kangaroos.
“If they are actually on the pathway you can pet them, which is something we get a lot of guests, especially from out of town that come in and they’re like, ‘Wait. We can walk inside with them?’ And I’m like, ‘yes’. ‘We can pet them?’ And I’m like, ‘yes’.”
Wisner explained that the kangaroos can be patted on the back if they are on the pathway, but if they are on the grass, then visitors need to stay away.
“We do actually have a 10:30a.m. feeding where we feed them close to the pathway to try to get them to come up to the pathway so guests can get that nice close encounter and hopefully get to pet them,” Wisner said.
These kangaroos were all born captivity. Most of them at Nashville Zoo, and while they are docile, Wisner pointed out that you wouldn’t pet a wild kangaroo.
Speaking of kangaroos born at Nashville Zoo, currently, there are several joeys growing in their mamas’ pouches.
“We actually have six females with joeys in the pouch right now, and they range from about this big to one that is bigger and hopping in and out of the pouch currently,” Wisner said.
Wisner said female kangaroos reach sexual maturity at 18 months while males reach it at two years.
“They [females] can actually give birth throughout their entire lives. They have a really cool thing called fetal diapause where they can actually have a joey out of the pouch, still nursing from the pouch, a joey growing in the pouch, and then one waiting to be born. Basically, it’s just a ball of cells. It’s just a ball of cells waiting to be born as soon as that pouch is available again,” Wisner explained.
They only keep one breeding male at the site because of dominance issues, and his name is Rooben. He has the pleasure of being a dad to lots of joeys at the Nashville Zoo.
“I believe Rooben has given us about 25 joeys since about December 2019.” Wisner continued, “We’re the first ones we had with him.”
Now is a good time to visit because starting at the end of June, there will be at least four joeys hopping in and out of their pouches.
News 2 has partnered with Nashville Zoo to bring you weekly segments of Zoopalooza. You can watch them on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and right here on WKRN.com.
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