Wallabies: Smaller 'roos
The word “kangaroo” often brings to mind a picture of a big, bounding critter with long ears and a baby, or joey, peeking out of its mother’s pouch. Kangaroos are perhaps Australia’s best-known animal and are found in stories, movies, and even as sports team mascots the world over! The kangaroo’s family name, Macropodidae, means “big feet,” a great description for kangaroos and their relatives, the wallabies.
The main difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby is size, but otherwise, they are quite similar. The hind legs and feet are much larger and more powerful than the forelimbs. Their tails are long, muscular, and thick at the base, helping the animal balance and turn during hopping and providing support when it rests. The wallaby’s smaller size lets it fill smaller, more varied niches than its larger cousin, but both are herbivores.
You’ll find Parma wallabies at the San Diego Zoo. This species was thought to be extinct until accidentally “discovered” on an island near Auckland, New Zealand in 1965. Our wallaby exhibit provides these pouched wonders with lots of space for hopping and hidey-holes for those times when a wallaby just needs to have some “alone time.” Look for the tracks left by the wallabies’ tails in the soft dirt!