THE UK’s first ever koala joey has been born at Edinburgh Zoo, it was revealed today.
The birth is being hailed as a major achievement as first-time mum two-year-old Alinga only arrived at the Zoo earlier this year, before being introduced to male Goonaroo in April.
Donald Gow, Senior Keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, says: “We are all immensely excited by the birth of the UK’s first ever koala joey. I have worked with the Zoo’s koalas for the past eight years and they require a lot of specialised care.
Koalas are very sensitive creatures with a very selective diet and the husbandry can be extremely challenging. As they are solitary animals, it takes an expert eye to know how to successfully introduce a male and female together for breeding. There is a lot of dedication and skill involved in caring for koalas, and it is a significant achievement for everybody involved.”
Koalas have a gestation period of only 30-35 days and the birth of the joey is thought to have taken place in mid-May. However, koala joeys are extremely underdeveloped when first born – measuring around 2cm long (the size of a jelly bean), blind, with no ears and no fur – and spend a further six months growing inside their mother’s pouch.