Save the Koala Day

Written By: Amanda Powers

Sometimes being social can be exhausting- especially if you are a koala! With a daily schedule that includes 20 hours of sleep and 4 hours of browsing on eucalyptus, it’s hard to find time to pencil in date night. In fact, some research shows that koalas spend only 15 minutes a day in social activity- talk about speed dating! In all seriousness, koalas are fascinating creatures with many interesting and unique characteristics, and we are lucky enough to have 3 here at ZooTampa!

Interested in learning some koala-ties of our koala pair?

Heathcliff is the male koala. He is 6 years old and arrived to ZooTampa in March of 2014. He is pretty laid back, goes with the flow, and let’s his girlfriend get her way a lot. Ceduna is the female koala; she is 5 years old and arrived here in April of 2015. She is definitely the sassy one and will let everyone (mostly Heathcliff) know if she hungry, sleepy, or in any mood that may warrant attention. As mentioned earlier, koala are not overly gregarious animals, however you may see Heathcliff and Ceduna interacting, typically in their outdoor habitat.

Are you ready for some more koala-tative koala facts?

Queensland koalas (they kind we have at Zootampa) are found in northern Australia and live solely in forests dominated by eucalyptus. It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 300,000 individuals in this area, but habitat loss has rendered them vulnerable to extinction. Koalas are territorial animals, but territories generally overlap. There are residents who stay in the same territory and transients who move throughout. Males and females communicate using deep bellowing calls and scent marking. Despite having an adorable appearance, male koalas can be fiercely competitive and aggressive during breeding season (December-March).

Koalas, like wallabies, are marsupials. A marsupial is a mammal that is born after a short gestation but then moves to its mother’s pouch to develop more. A koala baby, called a joey, is born only 30-35 days after being conceived. They are blind, hairless, and look a little bit like a pink jellybean! The joey has quite a journey after birth, navigating from the birth canal, through the mother’s fur, and into her pouch opening. After the joey makes its way into the mother’s pouch, it latches on to her teat which swells in its mouth to help keep it safely secured inside. The joey stays safely inside for the first few months of its life, drinking only its mother’s milk. At about 6 months of age, the Joey may start poking its head out of the pouch, but it starts to fully leave the pouch for short periods of time at 7 months. At this point you may see the joey riding on the mother’s belly or back, though it still returns to the pouch to drink milk. It will start eating some leaves at this point but will continue to nurse until it is too big to fit in the pouch. A joey is usually self-sufficient between 1-2 years of age, typically when its mother’s is ready to have her next joey.

Heathcliff and Ceduana just had their very first joey- a baby boy named Sydney! It is difficult to assess the exact birth date in koalas, but we are estimating that Syd was born around December 20, 2018. He is growing like a weed and is starting to become more adventurous every day. He has yet to fully leave Ceduna and explore on his own, but he is getting more and more curious. He is officially too big to fit all the way in his mom’s pouch! He still nurses but is eating lots of eucalyptus. We are excited to watch him grow and reach new developmental milestones, and we are excited that he is finally easy for guests to see in the koala habitat. It is VERY hard for all of us to get any work done, because he is just too cute!!!

Now that you’re a koala-fied expert, head over to Walaroo for a visit!

Come get an up close photo encounter with Mr. Heathcliff during our new koala experience. It is offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:o0 am.