Phillip Island Nature Parks have announced the addition of a baby koala (joey) at the Koala Reserve, the first to be born at the Reserve since 2014.
“We are excited about our new addition,” says Conservation Manager, Jessica McKelson.
“We estimate the joey to be around five months old and it is starting to poke its head out of its mother’s pouch to the delight of visitors.”
The joey’s mother, Ella, is four and a half years old, and one of four female koalas who live on the Koala Boardwalk area within the Koala Reserve which they share with the joey’s father, Kiewa. Ella was brought to the Koala Reserve from the Otway Ranges.
This birth is a positive sign for the Reserve’s koala population that has remained stagnant for the past few years.
Koalas are marsupials and give birth to furless, jellybean-sized young who climb into the mother’s pouch to complete their development. They start to emerge and venture from the pouch at about six months of age. They cling to their mother’s belly and ride on her back as they grow. The joeys stay with their mother until they are about 12-18 months of age.
The joeys are quite active due to their high energy diet of milk and this can result in great koala antics which visitors can enjoy from the treetop boardwalks. Adult koalas, however, spend about 20 hours a day sleeping because of their low energy diet of gum leaves.
There are an estimated 20 koalas left in the wild on Phillip Island which are subject to threats such as being hit by cars, and loss of habitat. Rangers are keen to receive reports of koala sightings and urge our community to drive carefully and watch for wildlife on our roads.