In honor of Wild Koala Day (May 3), the Los Angeles Zoo announced that a new koala joey has emerged from its mother’s pouch and is viewable to the public.
The unnamed male koala joey was born to first-time parents three-year-old Maya and nine-year-old Burra on Aug. 4, 2022, and he spent the last several months developing and growing inside Maya’s pouch. Guests can view the joey at the Zoo’s Australia habitat starting to explore the world around him, resting on his mother’s lap or back, and casually nibbling on eucalyptus leaves.
“The L.A. Zoo has a long history with koalas, and a new generation of Angelenos will have the unique opportunity to see this joey grow up,” said Beth Schaefer, Director of Animal Programs, Los Angeles Zoo. “I am also delighted for guests to come to the Zoo today on Wild Koala Day and beyond to learn more about this species and the threats to their survival in the wild.”
Wild Koala Day is celebrated annually on May 3 to raise awareness about the threats koalas face in their wild habitat in Australia, which includes habitat destruction, fragmentation, bushfires, and disease, as well as drought-associated mortality in habitat fragments. In 2019 and 2020, the catastrophic Australian bushfires burned more than 24 million hectares of land, destroying native koala habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists koalas as vulnerable.
Often referred to as a “koala bear,” koalas are not bears but are marsupials like kangaroos, opossums, and wombats. After a very short gestation, marsupials give birth to embryonic or premature babies, called joeys, that are roughly the size of a jellybean. A joey is born after about 35 days. Hairless and blind, a joey uses its sense of smell and strong front legs with claws to climb up its mother’s fur into her downward-facing pouch. In the pouch, the joey attaches to its mother in order to nurse and continues developing for the next six months.
Maya and Burra’s successful pairing is the result of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) program recommendation that works to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied population. Guests are invited to visit the koala at the Zoo’s Australia habitat to catch a glimpse of the growing joey as he bonds with Maya and becomes more adventurous, weather permitting.