Christmas has come early at Taronga Western Plains Zoo with a Koala joey emerging from its mother’s pouch. The female joey named Banksia by her keepers is doing well. Banksia is the first offspring for mother Lilli Pilli who was born in 2009 at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. “Banksia was born in July this year and has spent the past five months in her mother’s pouch,” said Keeper Rachel Hanlon.“Whilst Banksia is still very young she is very curious and interested in investigating her surrounds with her mother, said Rachel. Lilli Pilli is showing all the right maternal behaviours and whilst her joey is staying close by her side at present over the next six months she will start to become more independent. This birth continues the Zoo’s recent breeding success for this species with two joeys born in 2009. Banksia and her mother can be seen from the platform in the tree tops of the Aussie Walkabout exhibit.Koalas are found only in Australia and occupy forest and woodland areas where there are acceptable food trees. Koalas breed only once a year and produce a single offspring. The average lifespan for a koala is 10 – 14 years in the wild.