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 branches, which is the juiciest and softest leaves are and eat around 500g of leaf 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 joey 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 joey 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 Alexia - you never know what misadventure she is likely to get up to.
One thing is for certain; she is a great mum and showers her babies with lots of tender loving care. She even loves to care for other koalas' joeys! Our cheeky Alexia keeps her keepers on their toes at all times, but they don't mind - they're always rewarded with Alexia's unwavering affection.
Taking after his beautiful Mother Kirra, Anzac is very easy to pick out of a crowd due to his special half black/ half pink nose.
One of the most adventurous and independent joeys around, he is known to be a troublemaker amongst the other joeys and is often pushing his way into the other Mums pouches!
Very quick, very inquisitive and an all round funny koala to watch as he has a BIG personality and will definitely keep our koala trainer's on their toes with training!
What a sweetheart. Ash has traded in her cuddles with guests at the photo studio to become a beloved Mum of many joeys here at Australia Zoo. She is a perfect Mother in every way and can even end up babysitting other joeys just for joy!
Ash also 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.
Aahh...everything is about Ash- and that's just the way Ash likes it.
Known for her very relaxed attitude, and VERY fluffy ears, Brandi is a huge favourite among our Keepers! Brandi loves meeting people and can be seen at our photo studio, and special events enjoying the cuddles!
As she grows up with a few other girls at Koala Island she can be seen jumping around being cheeky and sitting as high as she can to be Queen of the castle!
Dexter is going on 3 years old and is very small for his age! Mother Portia and Grandmother Ellen are very small ladies themselves and this seems to follow in the gene pool for their offspring!
He is very sweet natured and gentle which makes him a favourite at the photo studio and experiences getting all the cuddles he can! He has a very small nose and a chin strap marking on his chin which Mum Portia and Grandmother Ellen have passed down the generations.
Dexter is now learning how to bellow at our Koala HQ, learning the tricks of the trade from some of our other males for the coming breeding season! GO DEXTER!
Age: 11 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: 3 Years (DOB 26/12/2013)
Born on boxing day 2013, I was a belated Christmas present for my parents Willow and Harley, and my keepers at Australia Zoo! I made my first appearance from mum's pouch at 6 and a half months old, and have been called a curious joey by my keepers.
Just like the original JT who inspired my name, Justin Timberlake, I'm adventurous and outgoing! I love going out for morning roves with my keepers and meeting the guests as they enter the zoo, there is always so much to see and smell!
Kirra is developing into a very hip young Mother often seen minding other koala joeys, on babysitting duties!
She is always very active, and has a signature green stained mouth from eating all the best Eucalypts on offer! Kirra is a busy koala and can be seen at our photo studio, koala experiences and also being the best Mum on the block!
Be sure to keep an eye out for the beautiful Kirra as she gallivants her good looks around the zoo.
Age: 13 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.
One of the highlights of Mashs' day is when the fresh eucalyptus leaf arrives. Mash has become a wonderful mum to many koala joeys here at Australia Zoo, and is currently housed with three of her daughters, Gemma, Chip and Tayta!
Our keepers here at Australia Zoo have named Mash's offspring after potato names!
Tall. Dark. Handsome. Nitro is known around our female enclosures for his signature manly looks, and sensitive nature, which has definitely been handed down from his father Lawson who was quite the Bachelor himself!
Very big strapping young male koala, who can be seen at our photo studio with a very dark,shiny groomed coat. Nitro has become a father for the first time this season, with son Oak - passing his beautiful genetics onto him. Loved by all!
Beautiful little Oasis. Very budding young koala that is always eager to stroll around and enjoy the simple things in life! She loves her leaf, especially the juicy tip which is a lot sweeter and yummier and normally gets gobbled up as soon as it arrives!
Oasis spends a lot of her time at the photo studio and also stars in VIP events as she loves to steal the show! Oasis is the daughter of our beautiful Alexia and can be a very cheeky young lady!
Age: 7 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.