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|Common Name:||Queensland koala||Family:||Phascolarctidae|
|Latin Name:||Phascolarctos cinereus adustus||Diet:||Herbivore|
|Native To:||Australasia||Social Unit:||Individual|
|IUCN Red List Status:||Least concern|
Koalas Territory - Now Open
Our newly re-vamped Koala Territory enclosure is now open to visitors
Queensland Koalas at Edinburgh Zoo
Currently, Edinburgh Zoo has two male koalas named Goonaroo and Yabbra. Goonaroo, whose name is Aboriginal for “wood duck,” was born in 2004. Yabbra was born in 2005. Yabbra's name is Aboriginal for “the fugitive” (as he kept popping out of his mother’s pouch at a very early age!)
On 14 February 2013 we receivee a female koala called Alinga (which means sun) from Duisburg Zoo in Germany.
Every day our koalas are fed five different species of eucalyptus. As eucalyptus leaves provide very little energy, koalas spend around twenty-one hours asleep and only wake up for short periods of time throughout the day. It is a myth that koalas become drugged from eating eucalyptus – it simply does not provide them with enough energy to maintain their body functions and be continually active.
Edinburgh Zoo is the only collection in the UK to house koalas, and is part of the European breeding programme.
Where it can be found at Edinburgh Zoo
Queensland koalas in the wild
There is only one species of koala (Phascolarctos cinereus adustus) but there are distinct regional differences depending on which area of Australia they are found – the further south you go, the larger and hairier the koalas become!
Koalas are usually solitary animals, each with their own home range or territory. Females will travel with their offspring until they are independent and able to establish their own home range. Male koalas have a scent gland situated on the front of their chests which secretes a smelly scent that the koalas rub on the base of trees to mark their territory and warn other males of their presence to avoid conflict.
Female koalas carry their offspring in a rear-facing pouch until the age of around seven months. Koalas are born very underdeveloped, so the pouch provides a safe place for the infant to grow and feed on its mother’s milk until it is developed enough to come out and ride around on its mother’s back.
Only a handful of other animals are able to use eucalyptus as a food source as its high levels of essential oils are toxic to most species. Koalas have specialised digestive systems which breaks down the eucalyptus to eliminate the toxic material whilst allowing the rest to be digested safely.
Due to their diet lacking nutrition, koalas carry no body fat - every bit of energy derived from food is used to drive essential body functions and enable the koala to move. Koalas are rarely seen drinking – most of their water intake comes from the eucalyptus leaves.
Koala numbers are in decline throughout the Eastern coast of Australia where they naturally occur. The eucalyptus forests that the koalas depend upon for survival are disappearing to make way for roads and housing as more areas are being inhabited by humans. When koalas move from one tree to another on the ground they are very vulnerable to predation from dogs, both wild and domestic, and many are struck by cars. They are also killed for “fun” by humans with guns as they are quite literally “sitting targets” whilst asleep in the trees.
When wildfires break out, whole eucalyptus forests are wiped out very quickly as eucalyptus burns easily – this has devastating effects on the koalas’ food supply and many are trapped in the burning trees.
Breeding programme category: ISB
IUCN Red List category: Least Concern
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