A nine-month-old koala joey underwent a routine health check earlier today at the San Diego Zoo. The male joey, yet to be named, was brought down from the perching structure he shared with his mother and placed on a scale for his weekly weigh-in. While being weighed, his keeper provided him with a plush toy koala to hold onto for comfort, so he wouldn’t be stressed during the brief separation from his mother. The weekly health check is important, as it provides keepers the opportunity to see the animal up-close and lets them know the joey is growing as he should.
“This little guy is healthy and right on track with his development,” stated Jennifer Roesler, senior keeper. “He has only been out of the pouch for about eight weeks, and we’re learning he is very vocal with a little bit of attitude—definitely a momma’s boy, but also showing his independence by venturing off from mom from time to time and interacting with some of the other females in the habitat.”
The joey’s mother, Cambee, stayed nearby during his health check, keeping an attentive eye on her offspring. She quickly nurtured her joey when his exam was complete and resumed their daily routine of perching and mostly sleeping. While Cambee has occasionally allowed the joey to try eucalyptus, he is still nursing as his primary source of nourishment and will continue to nurse until he is around 14 months old.
The San Diego Zoo has the largest breeding colony of Queensland koalas and the most successful koala breeding program outside of Australia. Researchers at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are studying koala populations, both at the Zoo and in the wild, to better understand the species’ complex ecology, mating behaviors and health. The information gleaned from this work will help further develop conservation strategies for koalas.
Zoo guests can see the koala joey and his mother, along with the other 18 koalas in the colony, at the Zoo’s Australian Outback habitat. During Nighttime Zoo, now through Sept. 7, the Zoo offers extended hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., allowing visitors to view the koalas during their more active hours of early morning and early evening. Nighttime Zoo features entertaining shows, music, acrobatics, animal encounters, and more. All Nighttime Zoo activities and entertainment are included with San Diego Zoo admission or membership. For guests who can’t visit the Zoo, the koalas can be viewed on the Zoo’s Koala Cam.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
Photo taken on July 9, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo