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Photo by Paul Fahy
Koala joeys Bai’yali and Holly

Two koala joeys have become ‘treemates’ at Taronga Zoo, snacking, sniffing and snoozing side-by-side since moving away from their mothers.

Holly and Bai’yali recently moved into a “koala crèche”, where the pair has been spotted munching on eucalyptus leaves together and even sharing an occasional nose rub to the delight of zoo visitors.

“Koalas are known to have poor eyesight, so smelling and hearing is much more important. Nose touching is a koala greeting and a way for koalas to determine if they’re encountering a friend or foe,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

The pairing of Holly, who turned one on Christmas Day, and 15-month-old Bai’yali, is designed to replicate koala behaviours in the wild. From 12 months onwards, koala joeys leave their mothers to find their own home ranges.

“We crèche them together so they can grow up and learn natural social behaviours without feeling threatened by the adult koalas. It’s also nice for the joeys to have a companion while they’re making the big transition away from their mothers,” said Laura.

Laura said the female joeys would remain together for at least another year if they continue to get along.

“I think they’ve been really good for each other so far. Holly is quite independent for her age, so she’s helping Bai’yali to grow up too,” she said.

Visitors can see the two joeys at the front of Taronga’s Koala Encounter and learn more about one of Australia’s most iconic species and how they are under threat from habitat destruction and population fragmentation.

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