A little Koala joey has started hitching a ride on mom Lottie’s back at Riverbanks Zoo.
The baby is about six months old, but has only recently emerged from Lottie’s pouch and started experiencing the outside world.
Koalas are marsupials (pouched mammals), and their joeys are only the size of a jellybean at birth. Shortly after birth, the tiny, underdeveloped joey crawls from the birth canal into the pouch, where it latches onto a teat. The joey grows and develops inside the pouch for months. Once it becomes mobile and is covered in fur at about six months of age, the joey peeks out of the pouch and takes tiny excursions away from mom. The joey will cling to mom’s back for transportation until it is about 12 months old.
Zoo guests can look for Lottie and her joey in their habitat. Koalas are sedentary and sleep up to 20 hours per day.
Koalas are native only to mainland Australia, where they inhabit forested areas and feed exclusively on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. Because many of Australia’s forests are being converted to agriculture use or swallowed by spreading urban areas, Koalas were listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in 2016.