Australia Zoo's First Koala Joey
In the past week, one of Australia Zoo's newest explorers has poked his head out of the pouch to look at the world for the first time! This new koala joey is the first of a group of joeys born on Koala Island as part of Australia Zoo's breeding program for the vulnerable species.
Leading the group of Australia Zoo's record season of 13 koala joeys, the yet-to-be-named boy and his mum Ash, will stay together for over a year while he learns a variety of skills, like climbing and grooming, before reaching independence. This little dare devil has already been caught climbing onto his mum's head while the other joeys are still nestled in the pouch!
As part of Australia Zoo's on-going commitment to saving our emblem species, our koala experts focus on genetic diversity in the breeding program to encourage the best family trees.
Head of the Australia Zoo koala department Kirsten Latham said that keeping a diverse population within the Zoo is important due to their drastically declining rates in the wild.
'The population of koalas in Queensland are being radically affected by disease, habitat loss and the increasing human footprint," said Kirsten.
'Having koalas at the Zoo means that people can visit them, fall in love with them and learn how they can help save them from ending up on the endangered list.
'Apart from being a significant contributor to the koala breeding program to ensure that people can see koalas for years to come, Australia Zoo is also one of the only places in Australia where guests can cuddle a koala, which is pretty special!" She said.
Visitors to Australia Zoo have a variety of options to meet koalas and learn about them throughout the day. From encounters, to koala cuddles and koala demonstrations, Australia Zoo is determined to help everyone fall in love with one of Australia's most-loved animals, which won't be hard when the adorable new joeys begin exploring their surroundings in the coming months.
Koala-inspired tourism is worth $3.375 billion to Australia each year, with koalas representing 11% of inbound tourists who wouldn't travel to Australia if not for these native Australian mammals.
FACT: While eucalyptus is the main source of food for koalas, joeys are not born with the digestive enzymes to make the transition from milk to leaves straight away. Before they begin their diet of leaves, joeys must first eat -pap', a specialised form of their mother's dropping which helps them adjust to consuming such a potent diet.