By Sarah M. Corigliano
Zookeeper Andrea Reilly holds Little Roo in his custom purple pouch. Reminder Publications photo by Sarah M. Corigliano
Assistant Managing Editor
SPRINGFIELD At seven months old, the Red Kangaroo joey at the Zoo in Forest Park prefers to spend most of his time eating and napping.
According to the Zoo's Education and Volunteer Services Director Nancy Condon, the joey, called Little Roo, recently came under the care of the Zoo's staff when his mother stopped taking adequate care of him.
The wobbly youngster took some time last Thursday to pose for photos with The Reminder but did not want to stray far from his comfy purple pouch.
Zookeeper Andrea Reilly took him out to get some fresh air but shortly after getting his bearings and practicing his kangaroo walk, something startled the toddler back into the pouch. A peacock then appeared a few feet away. Once in the pouch, Little Roo's rear legs and muscular tail dangled on the outside as the pouch hung from a strap over Reilly's shoulder. Condon said the Zoo is not sure at this point whether Little Roo, who weighs about four pounds and is all legs, will be a permanent resident. As an adult Red Kangaroo, he could reach six feet in height, just like his father, who is also a Zoo resident. If Little Roo stays, a separate habitat will have to be built for him as there would be serious competition between the two adult males.
The Reminder also visited the Zoo's other famous baby, the now nearly full- grown leopard, Katunga.
Katunga recently was introduced to his brand new habitat on the perimeter of the Zoo. The leopard celebrated his first birthday in March and had been living in a smaller enclosure until he reached adult size.
Condon said the new habitat received the finishing touches a couple of weeks ago from MassMutual volunteers at the Zoo participating in United Way's Day of Caring. Unfortunately, some of the landscaping the workers established inside the habitat, such as two small bushes, has already been used as a chew toy by the jungle cat.
The volunteers also applied green paint to the fence on the leopard's enclosure to cut down on glare from the sun and provide better viewing opportunities to Zoo visitors.
In the winter, Katunga will be able to remain in his habitat and go inside his own heated building when the weather gets cold.
Upcoming Zoo Events
Oct. 21: Flashlight Safari, 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 29: Boo at the Zoo, 1-3 p.m.
Nov. 19 and 26: Animal Encounters, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dec. 27 - 30: A "Beastly Brigage" of Children's Courses.
For more information on these programs, stop by the Zoo, or visit them online at www.forestparkzoo.org, or call 733-2251. Some programs listed above require registration.