Edinburgh Zoo celebrate the birth of new koala
- Jamie Brotherston
- 20 September 2013
The koala is the first ever to be born in the UK
Edinburgh Zoo has announced the birth of a Koala joey, the first instance of a successful breeding programme of the marsupial in the UK.
Donald Gow, Senior Keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said: 'We are all immensely excited by the birth of the UK’s first ever koala joey. I have worked with the Zoo’s koalas for the past eight years and they require a lot of specialised care. Koalas are very sensitive creatures with a very selective diet and the husbandry can be extremely challenging'
Koala joeys are born after a pregnancy of only 30 days; when born, they are the size of a jelly bean, blind and without fur before crawling to their mother’s pouch where they develop. With the joey expected to pop it’s head out for the first time in mid-October, staff are thrilled.
'As they are solitary animals, it takes an expert eye to know how to successfully introduce a male and female together for breeding. There is a lot of dedication and skill involved in caring for koalas, and it is a significant achievement for everybody involved,' said Gow.
The joey’s mother, Alinga, has been placid with keepers, and will carry her offspring until it is 12 months old before it too joins the European Breeding Programme. Once matured, the joey will be sexed, weighed and named, and will play an important role in protecting the future of the Australian species.
Eastern Australia, once a prominent territory for Koalas has seen a sharp decline after the loss of their very specific eucalyptus imbued habitat, and breeding programmes outside of Australia are becoming increasingly important to the species’ survival.
Visitors can see Alinga and her new arrival, along with other Edinburgh residents Gonnaroo and Yabbra, at the zoo’s upgraded koala territory.