An eight-month-old Koala joey at the Royal Zoological Society’s Edinburgh Zoo was weighed with the special assistance of a cuddly toy last week.
Kalari, whose Aboriginal-inspired name means ‘daughter’, is one of the UK’s only Queensland Koalas. She is also the first female of her kind to be born at the Zoo.
Photo Credits: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) /Images 1,2,6: Kirsty McFaul /Images 3-5: Lorna Hughes
Like all young joeys, she spends most of her time clinging to mum, Alinga, so keepers use a soft toy to give her something to hold on to during health checks.
As well as being members of a worldwide Koala breeding programme, RZSS also supports conservation projects in Australia that help to rehabilitate sick and injured Koalas and release them back into the wild.
It’s spring in Australia, and the Healesville Sanctuary finally got a look at a baby Koala that is just beginning to explore outside of mom’s pouch.
Photo Credit: Healesville Sanctuary
Born the size of a jelly bean to first-time parents Hazel and Noojee, the unnamed male joey has spent the past six months growing in Hazel’s pouch.
“When he was first born, he was pink, hairless and tiny,” said Koala Keeper Kristy Eriksen.
“We watched him make his way from the birth canal to the pouch completely unaided, relying on his already well-developed senses of smell and touch and an innate sense of direction,” Eriksen said.
The joey recently began exploring more and more, with his confidence growing each time he ventures out of Hazel’s pouch. Soon he will be riding on Hazel’s back and will eventually graduate to climbing trees all on his own - under mom’s watchful eye, of course.
Koalas are marsupials, a group of mammals that give birth to highly underdeveloped young. The newborn crawls on its own from the birth canal into a pouch on the mother’s body. Inside the pouch, the tiny infant, called a joey, attaches to a teat where it nurses and completes its development. After a few months, the joey begins to peek out of the pouch. Even after emerging completely from the pouch, a joey will seek refuge there, even when it can barely fit inside.
Despite being Australia’s most iconic animal, Koalas are under significant threat due to habitat destruction and fragmentation for agricultural and urban development. Koalas are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Don't miss more photos of Hazel and her joey below!
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.
Photo Credit: Riverbanks Zoo
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.
Taronga Zoo is delighted to share images of their new male Koala joey. The tiny face has appeared just in time to catch the warmer weather of an Australian summer.
The joey has been named ‘Banks’ after naturalist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks. This continues Taronga’s tradition of choosing names for their Koalas while honoring Australian heritage.
Banks is nine months old and is the second joey to mum Malleey, who gave birth to Baxter three years ago.
According to keeper, Laura Jones, Banks is now eating eucalyptus leaves, supplemented with mum’s milk. Soon he will be weaned and his diet will consist of only Eucalyptus leaves.
Banks has also now completely emerged from the pouch. “At ninth months old, he’s already experimenting with sitting on his own, which usually happens around 10 months, so he is a bit advanced for his age,” remarked Laura.
Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo
Koalas are one of Australia’s most iconic species. Unfortunately, Koala numbers are declining in the wild due to habitat encroachment, so every birth helps to secure a future for this iconic species.
Found along the East Coast of Australia, Koala’s are losing their homes due to deforestation. Being a sensitive animal, Koala’s do not translocate habitats well. Rather than cutting down trees and planting new ones elsewhere in the hope that wildlife will relocate, it is very important to protect their home today.
“It is particularly important for people to watch out for Koalas on the roads with the arrival of the busy Christmas period,” Laura added.
Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this year. A great time to see the new Koala joey, in the zoo’s Aussie Walkthrough exhibit, is during the daily keeper talks at 3:30pm.
Earlier in the year, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo keepers announced the birth of a joey in the Zoo’s Koala Territory exhibit. The new little Koala is starting to emerge, to the delight of visitors who are lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
Born on January 31 to mum, Alinga, and father, Goonaroo, the new arrival to the UK’s only Koala group was still curled up inside mum’s pouch until very recently; however, the joey is growing fast and was photographed as it ventured out of the pouch for the first time last week.
Lorna Hughes, Team Leader for Koalas at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are really happy that the joey has started to fully emerge. At seven months old, the joey is almost too big to fit inside mother’s pouch, which means it will now be venturing outside more regularly. Soon it will begin riding on Alinga’s back, until it becomes independent at around twelve months. Soon we will be able to begin weighing the new addition and determine its sex so we can name it.”
Photo Credits: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo
According to the zoo, Alinga will carry the joey around on her back until it is around twelve-months-old and, once it reaches sexual maturity, it will go on to become part of the European Breeding Programme. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to have Koalas and this new arrival is testament to the Zoo’s animal husbandry expertise.
As members of the European Breeding Programme for Queensland Koalas, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo makes regular contributions that support conservation projects in Australia to help rehabilitate and release sick and injured Koalas back into their natural habitat.
Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are native to eastern Australia and are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The main threats facing Koala populations in the native territory are habitat loss, wildfires and climate change.
Taronga Zoo’s Koala keepers received an early gift this past festive season…two Koala joeys emerged from their pouches just in time for Christmas!
The tiny face of a male joey appeared in time to catch some of Australia’s warmer weather. The seven-month-old is the second joey for mother Sydney. “It’s a bit hot inside that pouch on steamy summer days, so he’s started to climb out and sit on Sydney’s head or cling to her belly and back,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.
Prior to Christmas, Keeper Laura reported it would not be long before the joey began to spend all its time outside the pouch. “He’s still climbing back into the pouch occasionally, but it’s a tight squeeze and his arms or legs are often sticking out. By New Year’s Eve I don’t think he’ll fit back in,” she said.
Sydney isn’t the only new mum at Taronga Zoo’s Koala Encounter; her neighbor Willow also recently welcomed her second joey.
At eight months old, the female joey is slightly more developed than her tree mate and already starting to sample eucalyptus leaves. “She’s begun to nibble on leaves while mum is having breakfast. She’s a bit awkward and clumsy trying to get the leaves into her mouth, but she’s getting better every day,” said Laura.
Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Images 1-5: Sydney and her male joey; Images 6-12: Willow and her female joey)
The yet-to-named joeys will spend at least another three to four months with their mothers before starting to venture out on their own.
Visitors have begun to meet the two joeys at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they also learn more about the threats that Koalas face in the wild.
Laura said it was particularly important for locals to watch out for Koalas on the roads over the Christmas holidays.
“It’s breeding season and that means Koalas, particularly males, will be on the ground more and potentially crossing roads as they range around for territory and search for females. Motorists should be particularly careful when driving at dawn and dusk,” said Laura.
It’s nearly springtime Down Under at Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo, and the first Koala joey of the season has emerged from its mother’s pouch.
The male joey is just over five months old and starting peek out at the world. The yet-to-be-named youngster is the third offspring for his mother, Wild Girl. She is experienced at raising babies and is showing all the right maternal behaviors.
Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Wild Girl arrived at the zoo’s Wildlife Hospital after being hit by a car, and her injuries prevented her from being released back into the wild. She joined the zoo’s Koala group in early 2013 and has since played an important role in the breeding program.
For now, zoo visitors will have to look carefully to spot the joey when he is out of the pouch. The little joey clings to Wild Girl’s belly and can be hard to see. As the Australian spring arrives in full, the weather will warm up and the joey should become more active and independent.
Koala joeys stay with their mothers until they are about 12 months of age. At that time, they gradually roam farther from their mothers before becoming fully independent.
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.
Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its first Koala joey for this year’s breeding season, with a tiny face starting to emerge from its mother’s pouch. The female joey has been spotted mouthing its first eucalyptus leaves and slowly exploring the world outside the pouch, to the delight of keepers and visitors.
“She’s still quite shy, but we’re beginning to see her little face more and more,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.
Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo
Part of Taronga’s Koala breeding program, the yet-to-be-named joey is the third for experienced mother, Wanda. “Wanda is a very relaxed and attentive mum. She keeps her little one nice and close at all times and I’ve never seen her complain when the joey is scratching around with its claws inside her pouch,” said Laura.
At six months old, the joey will continue to gain weight and the fluffy fur for which Koalas are known. She will spend, at least, another four months with her mother before venturing out on her own. “It won’t be long before she can’t fit back inside the pouch. At that point she’ll start to cuddle up with mum, only putting her head back inside the pouch to drink,” said Laura.
Tour groups have begun meeting Wanda and her joey 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 important for people to watch out for Koalas on the roads at this time of year, particularly at dawn and dusk. “The quality of food declines during winter, so potentially you’ll see Koalas ranging further and closer to high-density areas to find leaves,” she said.
The Koala is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, in 2012, the Australian government listed Koala populations in Queensland and New South Wales as “Vulnerable”, due to a 40% population decline in Queensland and a 33% decline in New South Wales. Populations in Victoria and South Australia appear to be abundant; however, the Australian Koala Foundation argues that the exclusion of Victorian populations from protective measures is based on a misconception that the total Koala population is 200,000, whereas they believe it is probably less than 100,000.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, in South Carolina, was recently greeted by a new Koala joey. The male juvenile, born in May to ‘Lottie’ and ‘Jimmie’, emerged from mother’s pouch and has become quite the attraction.
Photo Credits: JMB Photography
The birth of the new Koala is a rare occurrence for a zoo in the United States. There is only an average of seven joeys born per year in 11 U.S. zoos with Koala exhibits, and only two were born in 2014.
Native to Australia, the Koala’s closest living relative is the wombat. They are mostly nocturnal, marsupials that often sleep 18-20 hours each day.
They prefer to live in the tall eucalypt forests and low eucalypt woodlands of mainland, eastern Australia and on some islands off the southern and eastern coasts. Although, there are well over 600 varieties of eucalypts, Koalas eat only some of these. They are fussy eaters and have strong preferences for different types of gum leaves.
In the wild, young females generally give birth to one young per year, and older females will generally reproduce every 2-3 years.
After a gestation period of about 30-35 days, the 2cm long blind and furless joey makes his journey to the mother’s pouch. It relies on its well-developed senses of smell and touch and an inborn sense of direction. Once in the pouch, it attaches itself to one of the two teats. The joey stays in its mother’s pouch for about 6 to 7 months, drinking only milk.
Before it can tolerate gumleaves, which are toxic for most mammals, the joey must feed on a substance called ‘pap' which is a specialized form of the mother’s droppings that is soft and runny. This allows the mother to pass on to the joey special micro-organisms from her intestine which are necessary for it to be able to digest the gumleaves. It feeds on this for a period of up to a few weeks, just prior to it coming out of the pouch.
After emerging from the pouch, the joey will ride on its mother’s abdomen or back, and it will return to the pouch for milk until too big to fit inside. The joey leaves its mother’s home range between 1 and 3 years old, depending on when the mother has her next joey.