ZooTampa is thrilled to launch the Koala Photo Encounter Presented by the Yob Family Foundation. Guests will get up-close to an adorable koala for a koala-ty photo! Families will be eye-to-eye with the Zoo’s male koala, Heathcliff. Before your adventure, here are ten fascinating facts!
- What’s in a name?
It’s believed that this adorable animal gets their name form an Aboriginal word, which means ‘no drink’. Koalas get most of their moisture from the leaves they eat, and barely drink water.
- They come from a land down under!
Koalas live primarily in forests and woodlands dominated by eucalyptus in Australia.
- Not koala-fied to be a bear.
Koalas are mammals with round, fuzzy ears, but they are not bears. They’re members of a group of pouched animals called marsupials.
Both males and females can be territorial and display a range of behaviors to establish dominance or initiate breeding. They use scent marking – either with urine or with a scent gland in the chest of males or with vocalizations ranging from grunts, snarls, wails, groans, and bellows.
- Joeys are the size of jellybeans!
After a 33-36 day gestation period, the koala gives birth to an embryo the size of a jellybean. The ‘joey’ then makes the journey to mom’s pouch where it continues to develop for about 6 months. In the beginning, joeys are blind and earless so they rely on their natural instinct plus strong sense of touch and smell to find their way from the birth canal to its mother’s pouch.
- They love you…calyptus.
A Koala’s diet consists mostly of eucalyptus. A portion of the encounter price helps care for koalas here at the zoo. Out of over 600 kinds of eucalyptus, koalas prefer to feed on less than 20% of them. Koalas use their sense of smell to find the least toxic leaves, even within the same branch.
- Pick your poison.
While eucalyptus leaves are poisonous to most animals, a koala’s digestive tract has special bacteria that breaks down toxic compounds and flushes them out quickly. This is important because it is also the reason why koalas are hard to treat for different infections.
- Zzzz’s and calories.
Due to their low calorie diet, Koalas save their energy by moving occasionally and sleeping almost 20 hours a day.
- Keeping up with Koalas.
This iconic Australian species is vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss to human homes, forest fires and droughts. National pride has bolstered conservation efforts and independent states have increased awareness and legal protection of this marsupial.
- Koala-ty photos get all the likes!
While only zookeepers are allowed to touch koalas, ZooTampa is one of two places in the U.S. to offer the chance to get THIS close to koalas! Book your Koala Photo Encounter today!