The animal population at Lufkin's Ellen Trout Zoo has increased -- by one, and the zoo's employees and staff members can be forgiven for acting like proud parents today.  One of the zoo's female wallabies has had a baby.

Zoo Director Gordon Henley says baby wallabies, or joeys, are smaller versions of kangaroos.  They're native to Australia and New Zealand, and like other marsupials, they spend much of their early lives inside a pouch on their mother’s stomach.

Celia Falzone, the zoo’s general curator, says they suspected this female Wallaby had the joey when it was about 3 months old.  She says wallabies have a very short gestation period of about 30 days, which makes it hard to tell if the female is pregnant until they can see the joey moving around in the pouch.

For now, the joey just stays inside mom's pouch, but at some point in the next several weeks it should start venturing outside. It won’t stray far from its mothers side, though, and will dive back inside the pouch if it's frightented.  Eventually, as the baby grows and matures, the mother will just hop away and leave it on its own.

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