ANIMAL FACTS - Koalas
The koala has five fingers and two opposable thumbs to help them grip onto branches.
We often hear these adorable Aussies called ‘koala bears’, but they are actually not bears at all. Koalas are marsupials, so they carry their young in a pouch, unlike bears which carry their young in the womb until they are well developed. The koala lives almost entirely on eucalypt leaves and they have a very low metabolic rate for a mammal, which is why they can sleep for up to 20 hours a day!
Koalas vary in size and colour depending on where they live in Australia. Koalas found in the southern distributions (Southern NSW and Victoria) tend to be slightly larger and darker than those in the northern areas (Northern NSW and QLD). This is likely to be related to the different temperatures and is a feature exhibited by many species whose distribution encompasses large climatic variations.
The most notable physical aspect of the Koala would have to be its big fluffy ears. Koalas have a great sense of hearing and an even better sense of smell. This is how they select which leaves are the best to eat. Their eyesight is not too good, and therefore detection of predators is generally by sound. They possess very strong forearms and extremely long, sharp claws for climbing.
Koalas are found in eucalypt forests around the Eastern and South Eastern coast of Australia. The majority of wild Koalas are found on private property thus meaning there is no formal protection of this habitat. It is not known why some areas are absent of Koalas despite the presence of a food source, but it is possible that historically hunting has driven local populations to extinction.
Koalas eat eucalypt leaves but only from certain species. There are over 700 Eucalyptus species occurring within Australia, however the Koala will eat leaves from less than 50 of these species. Out of the palatable varieties, less than one dozen are staples. They prefer the 'tip' of the leaves, which is the juiciest and softest part of the leaf and eat around 500g of tip per day. Of course wild Koalas have to depend on whatever leaf is available and during the cooler months will often be forced to eat the more mature leaves.
When a female Koala is ready to breed she will call out to a male by letting out a loud snorting bellow. The female gives birth 35 days after mating. When born, the baby weighs only half a gram and is the size of a kidney bean at about 2cm long. It stays attached to its mothers teat for 13 weeks, its eyes are open at 22 weeks and it gains teeth at 24 weeks. At around the 7 month age bracket, the baby will start taking short spells climbing on its mother's back and is usually independent at about 12 months old.
Alexia is a favourite with all the keepers. She is single minded about getting her cuddles and isn't afraid to waddle up to a complete stranger and hold her arms up to them in the hope that they will pick her up. Obviously, everyone needs to keep a close eye on our vivacious little Alexia - you never know what misadventure she is likely to get up to. One thing is for certain; she is a great little mum and showers her babies with lots of tending loving care. She even loves to care for other koalas' joeys!
Alexia and Matilda both had young joeys at the same time in 2009 and it wasn't uncommon for the mums to have swapped babies sometime during the night. They were always reunited with their mums, but didn't seem to care about the separation - the comfort they felt was clear. Our cheeky little Alexia keeps her keepers on their toes all the times, but they don't mind - they're always rewarded with Alexia’s unwavering affection.
April is a shy girl. She likes to sit quietly by herself and doesn't really like too much noise or activity going on around her. She can be quite the little princess and has often been heard vocalizing at the other koalas if they encroach too much on her personal space. And, in true princess style, April will promptly move herself to another resting spot, if disturbed by the antics of the others.
But, saying that, she still really enjoys cuddling up close to the other koalas, it just has to be on April's terms - good for her!
When it comes to keeper cuddles however, that's a whole different story. Of course, April doesn't like to let on that she is too keen, so after a half hearted effort to appear unwilling, she happily settles in for a big cuddle and more often than not a bit of shut eye.
You have to admire a girl who is not shy about placing her quirky little personality on display, and there is no doubt that our little girl April does it with style!
What a sweetheart. Ever since emerging out of the pouch, Ash has been an absolute delight. She won't let you past with out a cuddle or at least a hello.
Ash loves getting a daily cuddle from her keepers. Her hugs are big and tight and if she had her way they would go on forever. Ash loves her time at the photo studio where she gets so much love and attention from besotted guests. Aahh…everything is about Ash- and that's just the way Ash likes it.
Age: 6 Years (DOB 2/3/2008)
Such a beautiful boy is our Bailey. Big boned and with a thick creamy coat, just like his mum Mash, and the most enormous, floppy ears you have ever seen – thanks in full to his playful dad, Luca.
Born 2 March 2008, Bailey has been the joy of every keeper since his arrival, but is now very much master of his own domain. Without a care in the world, Bailey spends his day sleeping, eating and looking ridiculously cute during the daily koala demo.
Whenever he visits the Wildlife Photo Studio, he enchants everyone with his trusting nature and his desire for nothing more than to be cuddled and loved.
Well, they are two things we can certainly make sure Bailey gets as much as he wants!
Age: 14 Years (DOB 1/2/2000)
Coco is sweetheart through and through. She is quite a big girl - both long and solid, yet she manages to find comfort in the most odd and seemingly inappropriate places. She has a couple of favourite trees to sit in at Koala Walkthrough - one is the flimsy limb of a young silky oat tree, while another is in a small melaleuca shrub where the branches bend under her weight. But rest assured Coco doesn't seem to see any issue with her choices. She happily re-adjusts herself until the branches stop wobbling and settles in for a snooze.
Coco has effortlessly won the heart of every keeper. She loves to say hello to her keepers and will often come down from where she is sitting in a tree, offer her paw and then head back up again. Coco is a very special, sweet girl with the most endearing habits - she has even been known to try and sneak a little hand hold from the occasional guest. So Sweet!
Age: 12 Years (DOB 18/12/2001)
Edna is a true Darling - just like a favourite Aunty. Edna always keeps a close eye over the little ones, although we suspect she occasionally gives some unwanted advice to new mums if her occasional grunts and seemingly disapproving looks are anything to go by. Edna was named after the very famous 'Dame Edna Everidge' who once visited the Zoo. We think she does an amazing job at living up to the fame of her name!
It’s easy to imagine Edna with a big brimmed hat covered with flowers and tiny little spectacles that would give her disapproving looks the most impact. Edna has a sweet nature and as much as she loves a cuddle from her favorite keepers, she always maintains her distance by gently placing her front paws against their chest, just in case the cuddle gets a little too cosy.
Our Edna is a very special girl and we especially love the little white beauty spot she has next to the left hand side of her nose.
Age: 8 Years (DOB 8/11/2005)
Ellen is a resourceful and secretive koala. She doesn't mind the occasional cuddle, but seems to be at her happiest when perched high in the trees at walkthrough, checking out everything below. Ellen's favourite relaxing position is to sit with her back legs crossed across her stomach and her front limbs resting on her back feet. She'll sit like this for hours gazing into space, pricking up her ears and peering to see wherever there is a noise. She has the most amazing sense of timing - you can guarantee that she knows exactly what time the fresh leaf is being delivered and will take her-self down from the tree at nearly the exact same time each day to wait patiently for the leaf to arrive. She certainly has her keepers on a tight schedule. No-one wants to be the one to keep Ellen waiting and secretly they enjoy seeing her eager little face waiting for them. The look of satisfaction on her face when she starts munching into the fresh leaf is worth a thousand thank-you’s. Thank-you Ellen for being so darn gorgeous!
Jaffa would have to be the Zoo's coolest little dude! Right from birth, Jaffa developed a huge fan base, with his gorgeous pink smudgy nose and white cheeks.
Jaffa was born into Australia Zoo's 'Sweety' family, with mum Flossy (fairy floss), brother Minti and little sister Taffy. Jaffa's name came about because when he first came out of Flossy's pouch, his coat was a very orange colour.
Due to his placid nature, Jaffa is quite the superstar, with appearances in many magazines, television shows and photo shoots. All in a day's work for this cuddly boy!
Age: 6 Years (DOB 5/2/2008)
Jarrah is the cheekiest koala we have at the Zoo. He's not a big koala by any means, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in personality and determination.
Jarrah is the son of the petite, sweet and gentle Molly. He definitely gets his big boy attitude from his dad Lawson, who is one of our most dominant and devilishly good looking koalas. Considerable larger than Jarrah, Lawson often attempts to take on the dominant male in the enclosure where he lives. But this doesn't seem to deter Jarrah one little bit. He continues to stomp around like a little warrior, just dreaming of the day he is top koala.
All the Seinfeld fans will appreciate the character of Kramer. He certainly has a slightly wacky side to his personality, much like his brother Cosmo. Kramer is notorious for sitting high in the tree with his mouth partly day-dreaming and gazing towards the sky.
Although Kramer lives with a number of other males and holds a fairly strong position of dominance, he still gets a bit nervous around the ladies. As soon as he is around people- it's a different story. He loves meeting guests at the photo studio and becomes so relaxed that we sometimes catch him yawning in the middle of his photos - most of those lucky guests are so enthralled with their 'special' Kramer photo they don't want the second 'traditional' photo. We can always rely on Kramer to lighten our spirit and make us laugh.
Cheeky Luca is one of our beautiful male koalas here at the Zoo. When he wants something he doesn't mind pushing the boundaries to get it. He will try to jump on people for a cuddle or climb his keepers legs when cleaning his enclosure. This is all fun and games for him, but he makes it difficult for us to get any work done!
That is just one of the many things that makes him one of our most playful and loveable koalas at the Zoo.
Mackenzie is a cute little bundle of fluff, who has never lost any of her baby charm. She is petite, with a long slender little face and big flushes of white fur on her cheeks. When settled for a rest, she looks like she has a big fluffy hood on. She has a quiet elegance about her, and she is a regular in the photo studio where visitors can hold her for a cuddle.
Age: 10 Years (DOB 1/12/2003)
Born in December 2003, Mash is one of our gorgeous girl koalas here at Australia Zoo.
She has a very famous mum named Matilda and has inherited Matilda's voluptuous figure and stunning cream and light grey coat. Her gentle nature however, she most definitely got from her dad, Bancroft.
Mash became a mum herself in March 2008, when Bailey was born, weighing in at around half a gram. One of the highlights of Mashs' day is when the fresh eucalyptus leaf arrives.
Milla is the daughter of Alexia, one of our more cuddly girls, and 'Super Cooper' our famous oldest male koala. Milla is very petite, with the lightest coloured coat - almost light grey and white. She is known for her lady like sitting, where she dangles her crossed back legs below her, while she holds on with just one hand to a branch. There are always lots of oohs and aahs whenever Milla visits the photo studio. Everyone is besotted with her daintiness and never want to give her back after a cuddle -she is just too darn cute!
Our Milo has the heart of a true adventurer - he never stops investigating. Whether he is checking out something really cool, like a bug on a leaf, or another koala, he sure puts his heart and sole into it. The only problem is, not all the koalas appreciate his dedication and his constant snooping. After all, who would like a koala in their face whenever they tried to do something? All of us humans excluded, of course!
Sure, Milo might be a little bit forward when it comes to making friends, but not even the other koalas can stay cross at him for long. He does everything with such innocence and charm, that he eventually wins over everyone.
As you can imagine, Milo builds up quite an appetite with his constant curiosity, and eating is his most favourite thing to do, besides investigating. When the new leaf arrives each afternoon, Milo will be the first one to be seen hanging off branches and performing some pretty cool maneuvers to make sure he gets the first bite of the new dinner.
Friend to everyone and taste tester for all - what a great all round good guy our Milo is!
Mishka was named by one our guest in a 'Name the Joey competition' in 2008. Her name means little mouse in Russian. Well, she would have to be the cutest little mouse you are ever likely to see. She has a big ruffle of fur around her face and neck, which looks more like a mane, and a delightful gentle, inquisitive nature. She loves to have a smell of her keepers when they come to say hello and is happy to sit for hours checking out all the smells that they have on them.
Mishka is always alert and watching when other koalas move around her enclosure. When they are back up a tree, little Mishka will go over and smell their coat before cuddling up next to them for a snooze. One of her favourite koala mates who she loves to hang out with is Mackenzie - they were both raised by their mums at the koala walk-through. She just loves to the comfort of being close to a friend.
Age: 4 Years (DOB 29/10/2009)
Willow is definitely one of our sweetest Koala girls. Born on 29 October 2009, she quickly won the hearts of absolutely everyone at the Zoo.
Like her mum Ash and her dad Robby, she loves her cuddles. In fact, she love cuddles so much that she sometimes annoys the other koalas where she lives by sitting ever so close to them. Now, we all understand that everyone needs their personal pace, but we don't think anyone would blame little Willow for wanting to snuggle up, especially on cold winter nights.
Willow can unintentionally be quite the little mischief maker. It's just that she likes to check out what everyone else is doing and eating. Some would call this nosey, but in Willow's case we are sure it's just innocent curiosity. Although, we can see why other koalas might not be too thrilled with little Willow trying to take food out of their mouths - literally!
But, not matter whether Willow looks at you with her sleepy, dewy eyes or flashes you her biggest wide eyed looks, your heart just melts.