ZooTampa’s First Koala Joey Emerges


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A Koala joey recently started to peek out of its mother’s
pouch for the first time at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. The joey is the
first Koala baby born at the Zoo in its history.

Once an embryo the size of a jellybean, the joey made the
journey to mom Ceduna’s pouch, where it is finishing its final
stages of pouch life development, with dad Heathcliff nearby.

Koalas are mammals and sometimes referred to as bears, even
though they are not. Rather, Koalas are marsupials that differ from
other mammals because their newborns develop inside mothers’
pouches instead of a womb. Initially, a joey is blind and earless
and relies on natural instincts and strong senses of touch and
smell to find its way from the birth canal to its mother’s
pouch.


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Photo Credits: ZooTampa

Ceduna, who arrived at the Zoo in 2015, and Heathcliff, who
arrived in 2014, are part of the Zoo’s effort to conserve the
koala through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of
Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). After the pair’s successful mating,
veterinary and animal care teams are celebrating the recent birth
and new addition to the zoo’s Australia habitat, Wallaroo
Station.

Throughout the pregnancy and joey’s development, Ceduna’s
care has included thermography scans that inform her care team of
changes in her muscular, skeletal and nervous systems and ensure
optimal health.

“We do routine check-ups with Ceduna to build strong bonds
with her and ensure the highest quality of care,” said Lauren
Smith, D.V.M., veterinarian at ZooTampa. “The animal care team
continues to monitor Ceduna and her baby closely as the joey’s
exciting development continues.”

One of Australia’s most iconic animals, Koalas live primarily
in forests and woodlands dominated by eucalyptus plants. Though
poisonous to other species, specialized bacteria in a Koala’s
digestive tract enables it to break down the plant’s toxins and
rely heavily on eucalyptus for its food. Mature Koalas spend up to
five hours feeding on the plant leaves every day. For this solitary
species, the rest of the day is spent sleeping. Up to 95 percent of
a Koala’s life is spent by itself.

In large part because of Australia’s national pride in the
species, Koalas have survived the threat of extinction from habitat
loss and hunting. ZooTampa is committed to continuing to aid the
conservation of the species.

“We are proud to support conservation initiatives both at home
and beyond,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Senior Vice President and
Chief Zoological Officer at ZooTampa. “Our partnership with the
Australian government allows us to support the goals and objectives
of the Koala Species Survival Plan.”

Guests can catch a glimpse of Ceduna practicing her yoga poses
while her joey clings to her back or belly, until it reaches one
year old and can begin climbing trees on its own. To get an even
closer look at this unique species, guests can add a Koala Photo
Encounter, presented by the Yob Family Foundation, to their visit
to meet the joey’s dad, Heathcliff, and receive a photo. Guests
are encouraged to stay tuned to the Zoo’s social media pages for
more Joey updates.


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Source: FS – Zoo Borns
ZooTampa’s First Koala Joey Emerges