Animals & Attractions

Edinburgh Zoo is home to the UK's only Queensland koalas. 

Our adult male koala is called Goonaroo.  Goonaroo's name is Aboriginal for “wood duck,” and he was born in 2004, he is the father to our new koala joey. We received a female koala called Alinga (which means sun) from Duisburg Zoo in Germany on 14 February 2013 and on 10 August 2018 we welcomed the arrival of Tanami a 19-month-old male Queensland koala from Duisburg Zoo in Germany.  

On the 18 January 2019 we were delighted to announce that a 6-month old koala joey has been seen peeking it's head out of mum, Alinga's pouch. Click here to watch the video... During a recent health check, the keepers have been able to confirm that our new joey is a girl! She has been named Kalari, an Aboriginal-inspired name meaning daughter.

Location in the zoo

Please note that Koala Territory opening hours may vary. Please check on arrival.

Breeding Programme Category

Our koalas are managed by the International Stud Book programme (ISB).


Support RZSS - Adopt a panda

In The Wild

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus adustus) are one of the most iconic animals in Australia and although they are bear like in appearance they are in fact marsupials. There is only one species of koala 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.

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 special cheek teeth which help grind the leaves into a fine paste. This paste then enters their specialised digestive system 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. Therefore the koala spends long periods of time sleeping, normally between 18 and 22 hours a day, to help compensate for this. Koalas are rarely seen drinking – most of their water intake comes from the eucalyptus leaves.

Koalas are marsupials and this means they have a different reproductive system compares to other mammals. After mating the 11 – 35 day old embryo, which is the size of a jelly bean at this stage, is born. It crawls into the pouch of the female koala and attaches to a teat where it stays for approximately 7 months to develop, similar to kangaroos and wallabies. In the pouch the joey (baby) feeds on milk and a substance called ‘pap’, which is a watery form of the mother’s poo. This will provide the joey’s digestive system with the micro-organisms essential for digesting the toxic eucalyptus leaves. When the baby (called a joey) is ready to emerge they can often be seen poking out of their mothers rear-facing pouch. When they are developed enough they will come out and ride around on its mother’s back.

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.

Koala joey peeks out

Visit us all year round

Enjoy a range of member benefits and visit us as many times as you like.

Get our latest offers, animal stories & event news straight to your inbox!