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Tilly with joey, Bai’yali
Tilly with joey, Bai’yali

Taronga Zoo has welcomed its first koala joey for this year’s breeding season, with the little female beginning to explore the world outside her mother’s pouch to the delight of visitors.

The joey has been named Bai’yali (pronouncedbye-yah-lee’) after the D'harawal Aboriginal word for ‘stringybark’, one of the eucalyptus species favoured by koalas,in honour of NAIDOC Week, which runs from 6-13 July.

Koala keeper, Laura Jones said mother, Tilly, had taken to her new role remarkably well.

“She’s proving to be a very relaxed and nurturing mum. She’s doing all the right things and her joey is thriving. Bai’yali is fully out of the pouch now and can often be seen holding onto mum and snuggling in her belly when they are resting,” said Laura.

At seven months old, the joey is beginning to taste eucalyptus leaves and steadily gaining weight and the fluffy fur for which koalas are known. She will spend at least another three months with her mother before venturing out on her own.

Part of Taronga Zoo’s koala breeding program, Bai’yali is the first of three joeys expected to emerge at the Zoo this breeding season. Tilly’s younger sister and tree-mate, River is also carrying a male joey.

“He still just fits inside mum’s pouch, but it won’t be long before he’s out and about too,” said Laura.

Visitors have begun meeting Bai’yali at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they learn more about one of Australia’s most iconic species and how they are under threat from urban development and forestry breaking up their natural habitat.

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