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Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program

Native to the mountainous rainforests of Papua New Guinea this critically endangered species needs our help. Your Roger Williams Park Zoo has long supported wildlife and habitat conservation programs to help this threatened species survive including a close partnership with the AZA Tree Kangaroo Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding program, Tree Kangaroo SAFE Program, and the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program.

Unlike their kangaroo relatives, tree kangaroos spend nearly all their lives in trees. Well-adapted for life in the forest canopy these small arboreal marsupials are built for climbing. With powerful limbs, long-gripping claws and a long tail for balance they can easily maneuver from branch to branch. Despite their impressive abilities, they spend 60% of their time sleeping.

Although there are 14 species of tree kangaroos, our zoo is home to four Matschie’s tree kangaroos – Keweng, Paia, Morobe and La Roo. Topping out around 22 pounds each, this mighty little mammal is recognizable by its deep red and cream coloring.  Their thick fur works to insulate them against damp weather and acts as camouflage protection against predators.

Why is the Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo Endangered?

Deforestation and hunting are primary threats to tree kangaroos. Habitat loss due to expanding agriculture continues to push this species to the brink of extinction. Fortunately, through collaborative efforts, zoos and conservation programs worldwide are working to protect them.

Tree Kangaroo: Why Does it Matter?

These animals are an endemic species to one tiny part of the world, Papua New Guinea. Because their diet consists mostly of fruits, seeds, and nuts, they’re primary seed dispersers and contribute to creating and maintaining healthy forests. In addition, they’re culturally important to indigenous communities.

The Cooperative Conservation Project – A Closer Look

Results to Date

Thanks to RWPZ’s $30K, matching funds from a very generous donor, and additional funding from other sources, our Zoo has made a commitment to the Port Moresby Nature Park project to benefit wild tree kangaroos. The park is Papua New Guinea’s only Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation, Breeding and Research Centre. A safe haven for wildlife, the Nature Park is a leader in wildlife education, conservation and ex-situ research.

Support from our Zoo, generous donors, and other partner organizations allows the Nature Park to continue to rehabilitate wildlife for release, provide a home and life care for wildlife that are unable to return to the wild, and support research opportunities and breeding programs.

Through your continued support, you are an ally in saving and protecting this species and wildlife worldwide.

Long Term Recommendations & Goals

The Tree Kangaroo SAFE Program’s goal is to contribute to and expand the conservation of Matschie’s and Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos in the wild and support the local communities in Papua New Guinea. The Zoo is dedicated to helping this program that links community-based conservation initiatives in Papua New Guinea with the efforts and support of AZA members and partners.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Tree Kangaroos of Papua New Guinea SAFE Program Three-year Action Plan.

Questions? Contact Dr. Karin Schwartz, Records Manager at or call (401) 785-3510 ext. 322.

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