After three boys, Prospect Park Zoo finally has its baby girl, in the form of Windarra, the newest addition to the wallaby family.
Although she’s already 6-months old, zoo staff didn’t know Windarra’s sex until a few days ago, when she was old enough for a full physical.
“It’s kind of like a second birth,” said Denise McClean, the zoo's director, who said she felt like passing around cigars when she heard the news.
“When you end up with three boys, you’re like, 'the next one has to be a girl,'” she said during a tour of the zoo's Australian Walkabout exhibit, which re-opened for the spring April 9.
Windarra was born in October, but just emerged from her mother’s pouch last Thursday.
Now she is independent from her mom and hops around the exhibit with her half-brothers, 9-month-old Canberra, 1-year-old Melbourne, and 19-month-old Joondaloop. In the exhibit is also the dad, Darwin, Windarra’s mom, Adelaide, and Sydney, the boys’ mom. All of them are named for Australian cities.
This morning, the wallabies were energetically hopping around the grassy hill, while Melbourne, one of the bravest of the joeys, ventured on top of a large pile of rocks used to simulate their arid, rocky native terrain in Southern Austraila and New South Wales.
Visitors wandered through the fenced off exhibit, with some breezing by and others waiting patiently to see the wallabies emerge from behind the boulders and bushes.
“They are so cute, I want one as a pet,” said 11-year-old Maya Foxman of Park Slope.
Smaller than their kangaroo cousins, wallabies use their huge hind feet to gather speed, ricocheting off trees and rocks like cartoon characters, while special fur on their paws helps them grip to rocks, said McClean.
At one point, Melbourne got particularly curious and jumped into the fenced-off area reserved for the elderly pair of emu, , pushing Drummer into a territorial frenzy. She ran in circles until one of the keepers calmed her with grapes.
While the emu are fenced off because their huge feet and claws can be dangerous to humans, the rest of the animals – the wallabies, a Western grey kangaroo and two raucous Cape Barren geese – are free to roam with the visitors.
And the geese frequently did, with Ethyl frequently chasing her henpecked mate, Petrucio, off the visitor’s trail, and both of them nearly running into a cluster of visitors several times.
But the wallabies are the stars of the exhibit, especially little Canberra and Windarra.
“Anytime we get a new baby animal it’s exciting,” said Nicole Shelmidine, the zoo’s assistant supervisor of animals.