The Taronga Zoo Sydney is finally welcoming Greater Bilby joeys after over 5 years.
The joeys are called ‘Sandy’ (female) and ‘Gibson’ (male) and are named after the deserts in Western Australia in which the Greater Bilby inhabits.
“The Greater Bilby used to inhabit 70% of Australia’s mainland, but over the last 200 years their population has dramatically decreased due to the introduction of predators
The Greater Bilby: A species in danger
“The Greater Bilby used to inhabit 70% of Australia’s mainland. Yet, over the last 200 years their population has dramatically decreased. This is due to the introduction of predators such as feral foxes and cats, competition with rabbits and habitat degradation limiting the areas they inhabit to only 15%,” says Unit Supervisor of the Australian Presentation Precinct Simon Brown.
“It is humbling to know that these two joeys will go on to contribute their valuable genetics to Taronga’s Westerns Plain’s breeding program. They will potentially join the recently released Greater Bilbies as part of the Wild Deserts Project at Sturt National Park. This is an incredible and collaborative effort from UNSW ecologists, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Taronga,” says Simon Brown.
From a decreasing species to the birth of bilbies
Female bilbies can actually breed up to 20 joeys in their lifetime
“Although the birth of two joeys may seem insignificant to some, female bilbies can actually breed up to 20 joeys in their lifetime, so these two births are contributing heavily to the future population of this iconic native species,” says Mr Brown.
They will be ideal candidates for release, especially Sandy (female) as she is very independent
Greater Bilby joeys stay in the pouch for up to 75 days. When they emerge from the pouch, they are cared for by their mum for a further 14 days. After this time, the joeys leave the natal burrow and are fully independent.
“Both Sandy and Gibson are progressing extremely well. Currently weighing in at 500 grams, they are showing all the right traits that they will be ideal candidates for release. Especially Sandy (female), she is very independent and quite feisty,” says Mr Brown.