Taronga Zoo’s koala keepers received an early gift this festive season, with two koala joeys emerging from the pouch just in time for Christmas.
The tiny face of a male joey has appeared in time to catch the warmer weather. The seven-month-old is the second joey for mother Sydney.
“It’s a bit hot inside that pouch on steamy summer days, so he’s started to climb out and sit on Sydney’s head or cling to her belly and back,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.
Laura said it won’t be long before the joey spends all its time outside the pouch.
“He’s still climbing back into the pouch occasionally, but it’s a tight squeeze and his arms or legs are often sticking out. By New Year’s Eve I don’t think he’ll fit back in,” she said.
Sydney isn’t the only new mum at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, with neighbour Willow also welcoming her second joey.
At eight months old, the female joey is slightly more developed than her treemate and already starting to sample eucalyptus leaves.
“She’s begun to nibble on leaves while mum is having breakfast. She’s a bit awkward and clumsy trying to get the leaves into her mouth, but she’s getting better every day,” said Laura.
The yet-to-named joeys will spend at least another three to four months with their mothers before starting to venture out on their own.
Visitors have begun to meet the two joeys at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they also learn more about the threats that koalas face in the wild.
Laura said it was particularly important for people to watch out for koalas on the roads over the Christmas holidays.
“It’s breeding season and that means koalas, particularly males, will be on the ground more and potentially crossing roads as they range around for territory and search for females. Motorists should be particularly careful when driving at dawn and dusk,” said Laura.