Changing Planet

Tree Kangaroos Return to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo

Zoos worldwide are working to protect the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo–conservation funded also by the National Geographioc Society/Waitt Grants Program.

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, a leader in the effort to conserve tree kangaroos in their wild habitat in Papua New Guinea, is also working to expand the genetic diversity of these marsupials in captivity.


Woodland Park Zoo photo by Ryan Hawk

tree kangaroo facts.jpg

For the first time in three years, Woodland Park Zoo is again home to the Matschie’s tree kangaroo, known for its bearlike head, bushy tail and marsupial’s pouch, the zoo said today.

“An 8-year-old male, named Huen, arrived from Singapore Zoo in March and can now be found living in the Day Exhibit. As one of the newest conservation ambassadors at the zoo, Huen represents the international work of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, founded and based here at the zoo under the leadership of Dr. Lisa Dabek, Woodland Park Zoo Director of Field Conservation.”


National Geographic Grantee

Dabek also received funding from the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program for this work. Watch this National Geographic video about her tree kangaroo work in Papua New Guinea:

The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program celebrated a milestone this year with the passage of Papua New Guinea’s first ever national conservation area, preserving 187,800 acres of forest habitat for the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo and thousands of other endemic and endangered species, Woodland Park Zoo said in a statement.

“On Earth Day 2009, staff from Woodland Park Zoo and partner Conservation International joined thousands of PNG villagers for a traditional Sing Sing celebration in the highlands of Papua New Guinea in honor of this conservation breakthrough.”


Lisa Dabek (right), Woodland Park Zoo Director of Field Conservation, received honors on Earth Day from Papua New Guinea officials and YUS villagers for the efforts of Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program to help establish the first ever conservation area in the country.

Woodland Park Zoo photo by Ryan Hawk

The arrival of Huen marks the latest step in Woodland Park Zoo’s efforts to conserve this endangered species, the zoo added. “Huen will be joined by a mate in the near future to be part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan to breed this species in order to increase its genetic diversity.”

“Papua New Guinea, particularly the Huon Peninsula, is considered a high-priority area for conservation efforts due to the significant amount of intact rainforest, high species endemism and lack of protected areas for wildlife,” says a National Geographic Web site dedicated to the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program. “Destruction of the rainforest by mining, logging, and development threatens the continued existence of Papua New Guinea’s unique fauna and flora, including the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei), a flagship species for Papua New Guinea’s people.”

Read more about the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program >>

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

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