Animal Diaries Archive
Robbie the tree climber
22 June 2007
Have you ever seen a tree lopper cut down a tree? They have all kinds of equipment to help them scale up and down the tree safely.
Koalas are born with specially adapted hands and feet that are natural climbing mechanisms. Also the koala has one special tool... CLAWS!
Check out this photo of Robbie, climbing around inside his enclosure. You can see on his hands that he has two thumbs and three fingers. This gives him an extra strong grip on the tree, and allows him to hang like a monkey if he chooses. If you look closely, you will see that his feet are a little different to his hands. On his foot, he has one big fat thumb, which doesn't have a claw on it. This is a balancing toe, which wraps around the trunk helping him to balance as he moves around.
Look a little bit further and you will see that his second and third toes are fused together. This means he has two claws on the one toe. He uses these claws to groom his coat, just like we use a hair comb. So Robbie, with all of his tree climbing equipment is an excellent climber and jumper. He can jump across tree branches 1.5 metres away.
As a koala keeper, it is certainly a challenge working with an animal that can climb better than you! Stay tuned, next time I'll let you know some of the ways koala keepers master the art of tree climbing.
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