Spring, in Australia, has heralded the arrival of more tiny paws at Taronga Zoo, with two new Koala joeys emerging from the pouch to the delight of keepers and visitors.
A male joey has appeared just in time to catch the warmer weather. The seven-month-old, who keepers have named TJ, is the first joey for mother Sydney.
“We’ve been seeing arms and legs and even a little pair of eyes peeking out from Sydney’s pouch in recent weeks, but he wasn’t ready to venture outside until this week,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.
Sydney isn’t the only first-time mother at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, with neighbor Mallee also welcoming her first joey.
The male joey has been named Baxter, after a stringybark species called Eucalyptus Baxteri, and he’s already developing a taste for leaves.
“Baxter is chomping on leaves like a champion. He’s obviously still suckling from mum, but he’ll become more and more independent over the coming months,” said Laura.
“He loves climbing up near Mallee’s head to look around and I saw him step off on his own for the first time this week. He only lasted a few seconds before returning to mum, but he looked quite pleased with himself.”
Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this season, with experienced mother, Wanda, welcoming a female joey in June.
Visitors have begun meeting the two new joeys at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they learn more about one of Australia’s most iconic species and how they are under threat from urban development and forestry breaking up their natural habitat.
Laura said it was particularly important for people to watch out for Koalas on the roads with the arrival of spring.
“All of last season’s joeys will be emerging from the pouch, so you’ll start seeing them riding around on their mothers’ backs. Koalas may also be ranging further and closer to roads as the trees start to improve in quality,” she said.