A trio of Koala joeys is making headlines at the Taipei Zoo. The three joeys were born nearly a year ago, but are only now spending most of their time outside of their mothers’ pouches. Like all marsupials, Koalas are only the size of a jellybean at birth and develop in the pouch.
It is unusual for a zoo to have three Koala joeys at once, but the zoo’s group of eight Koalas resulted in three pairings. Female Koala Empress paired with male Flynn; female Tiwi paired with Q-be; and Coral selected Q-di as her mate.
Zoo officials began seeing the joeys peek out of their mothers’ pouches in July, but those appearances were brief and sporadic. As the joeys have grown, their explorations out of the pouch have grown more frequent.
Newborn joeys nurse in the pouch for several months. When the joey is about five months old and is being weaned, the mother will pass on the bacteria needed to digest eucalyptus leaves when it grows up. Koalas feed exclusively these low-protein, hard-to-digest leaves. To facilitate digestion, Koalas spend much of the day resting – up to 18 hours per day.
Koalas are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and are protected under Australian law. Recent clearing of bushland for development has caused a sharp decline in the wild Koala population.