Skip main navigation
Close menu

Hop on over to see the new faces at Franklin Park Zoo

With the changing foliage and the home team’s World Series victory, red has been the color of the season in Boston – and now, the Franklin Park Zoo can add to that red roster with the birth of a red kangaroo, and the exhibit debut of a female red panda cub.

“The kangaroo joey and the red panda cub are incredible ambassadors for their species, and through them visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to watch them grow up and learn about the role these animals play in their ecosystems,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO.

The kangaroo joey is approximately six months old, and was born to mother Skippy, age 13, and father Binowee (an Aboriginal word meaning “green place”), age 10.

This red kangaroo is also a Red Sox fan. In honor of the 2018 World Series Champions, Zoo staff voted to name the joey “Mookie,” after Red Sox right-fielder Mookie Betts. The joey was first spotted peeking out of the pouch by the kangaroo caretakers on October 12, just as the Red Sox were about to enter into the American League Championship Series.

This is the third joey born at Franklin Park Zoo since 2005, and the first since 2012. The kangaroos can be seen on exhibit in the Outback Trail if it is 40 degrees or above, with little to no precipitation. Kangaroo babies are born after a very short 30 to 35 day gestation and are about the size of a jelly bean. Joeys typically begin to emerge from the pouch for short periods at around 190 days. They will nurse from the mother for up to a year, but at about eight months will start to try solid food.

Kangaroos can reach speeds of more than 30 mph but usually travel at under 15 mph. They are common and found all over Australia, even in the driest parts. These animals usually time their births around the rainy season, which might be very short. As an adaptation for this sometimes very harsh environment, they can simultaneously have joeys at different life stages. A mother can have a fetus in the womb, one attached to a nipple still developing and one out of the pouch but still feeding.

Over in the Nature’s Neighborhoods exhibit, Zoo visitors will encounter another new furry face – a female red panda cub who recently made her exhibit debut.

The cub, named Priya (meaning “beloved”) by her caretakers, was born on June 29 to Fia, a first-time mom, and male, Hoppy. Prior to Priya’s debut, mom and baby had been bonding in a nest box behind the scenes since her birth. Zoo staff is thrilled that the little one has grown into a curious, healthy cub who is now big enough to explore the red panda exhibit. Priya can currently be seen on exhibit with Fia Fridays – Sundays, weather-permitting.

Priya’s birth was the result of a recommended breeding between Fia and Hoppy. Zoo New England participates in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild.

Zoo New England is committed to the conservation of red pandas and has supported the Red Panda Network, which seeks to save wild red pandas and preserve their habitat by empowering local communities through community-based research, education and carbon mitigation.

Red pandas have white and red markings and are covered with dense fur. They use their long, bushy tails to balance when they are in trees. In the wild, red pandas can be found in the cool temperate bamboo forests in the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan in China, as well as in the Himalayas and Myanmar. They share part of their range with giant pandas, a species that despite their name they are not closely related to.

Red pandas, also known as a firefox, have a varied diet, but do eat bamboo. They have a small bony projection on their wrists that helps them grip bamboo stalks. This endangered species is scarce and declining, threatened by habitat loss in the wild.