may have been christened “Logan”, but as soon as
Dreamworld’s superstar emerged from his mum’s
pouch and took a first glimpse of the world late in late 2007, he was
dubbed “Frank” for his extraordinary blue eyes.
He’s a little puff of fur with intense blue eyes, kind of like a Mel Gibson with a bit more fluff. Or Sinatra without the croon,” said Dreamworld’s Life Sciences Supervisor, Michelle Barnes. "I have worked with koalas for 14 years and have never seen a blue eyed one before.”
Australian Koala Foundation’s (AKF) CEO, Deborah Tabart was also at a loss to explain the unusual eye colouring. “In the 20 year history of the AKF, this is the first we have heard of a blue-eyed koala in captivity. It certainly appears to be a once in a lifetime event.”
Ms Barnes said that medically speaking there is nothing wrong with Australia’s newest heart throb, apart from a case of reduced pigmentation. His mother also has the same condition, although her eyes are brown.
Frank won't be treated any differently to any of the 57 koalas at Dreamworld’s Australian Wildlife Experience, said Ms Barnes.
“He is part of Dreamworld’s koala collection and whether he has blue or pink eyes he will be treated and managed like the rest of the koala family. We are delighted that he’s a little unusual, but he will only be used as a poster boy to help draw attention to the plight of this beautiful and iconic animal.”
Ms Barnes added that Frank is a typical mumma’s boy who sleeps 18 hours a day.
“He is still drinking from mum's pouch and is at a semi independent stage where he’s testing new foods. His favourite food these days is the leaf of the blue gum.”
Koalas are around 12-15mm when born and it’s not until six months of age and around 12 cm that they begin to emerge from the pouch and open their eyes. Like humans, many have a blue tinge to their eyes, which quickly recedes. Frank’s eyes were considerably lighter and he was taken to a veterinary eye specialist for appropriate testing in December.
“His vision is perfect and that and his health is what is most important to us.”
Frankie is currently in a special koala crèche and will go on display with the other koalas in April, around his first birthday.
About the Koala
Koalas are native to Australia and found in the wild in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Koalas’ eyes are relatively small in relation to the size of their other sensory features, such as their ears and nose, and their eyesight is not particularly highly developed.
Koalas rely on a highly developed hearing and sense of smell to differentiate between types of eucalyptus leaves and to detect the scent warnings put on trees by other koalas.
About Koala Handling Regulations
The EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) has developed a code of practice in conjunction with the QLD Zoological industry to regulate handling of koalas for photographic opportunities to a maximum 30 minutes a day and 180 minutes per week.
Frankie is currently enjoying time in a koala crèche and will undergo handling procedures before he can meet with the public.
Please review AKF’s website for what you can do to help koala’s in the wild. www.savethekoala.com
Dreamworld is proud to be a gold sponsor of the AKF.