Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos aren’t particularly down to earth. It’s not that they’re snobbish – although their mahogany coats do give them an air of luxuriousness.
Native to the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, these animals just don’t do well on the ground. Contrary to the hoppers of the Australian outback, these kangaroos are in their element among the treetops.
Unlike their earth-bound cousins, Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos are able to move each foot independently when walking. But that doesn’t mean they’re good at it.
Slow and awkward, they bumble along, leaning forward to balance tails that are nearly the length of their bodies. Instead, they’re adapted to life in the trees.
Their small bodies bear powerful limbs for climbing. Sharp claws and broad feet with padded soles ease their journey through the forest. And when there’s a distance to cover, their incredible jumping abilities come into play.
Able to leap nine metres between branches, these kangaroos can also dive 18 metres to the ground without risk of injury.
Not that they need to. When they aren’t sleeping throughout the day, they’re snacking on the leaves of Silkwood trees under the cover of moonlight.
With their lives revolving around the canopies, deforestation and poaching have had devastating effects on these creatures.
Nearly half of their wild population has been wiped out over three generations in Papua New Guinea.
Across the world, breeding programmes are working to save the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo. At Taronga Zoo Sydney, Kwikila and Parum are two animals who are contributing to the recovery of their species.
But it’s by protecting their natural habitats that we can keep them climbing freely for years to come.