Two Koala joeys have become ‘tree-mates’ at Taronga Zoo, snacking, sniffing and snoozing side-by-side since moving away from their mothers.
‘Holly’ and ‘Bai’yali’ recently moved into a “koala crèche”, where the pair has been spotted munching on eucalyptus leaves together and even sharing an occasional nose-rub to the delight of zoo visitors.
“Koalas are known to have poor eyesight, so smelling and hearing is much more important. Nose touching is a Koala greeting and a way for Koalas to determine if they’re encountering a friend or foe,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.
The pairing of one-year-old Holly (whose birthday is Christmas Day) and 15-month-old Bai’yali, is designed to replicate Koala behaviors in the wild. From 12 months onwards, Koala joeys leave their mothers to find their own home ranges.
“We crèche them together so they can grow up and learn natural social behaviors without feeling threatened by the adult Koalas. It’s also nice for the joeys to have a companion while they’re making the big transition away from their mothers,” said Laura.
Laura said the female joeys would remain together for at least another year if they continue to get along.