Today, The Australian Reptile Park took on the essential task of performing the first of what will become routine health checks for this season’s koala joeys. Two of the Park’s older joeys – ‘Olaf’, the son of Elsa (also known as the world’s most famous koala) and ‘Regina’, along with smaller joey ‘Pearl’, all passed their health checks with flying colours.
Elsa the koala’s son, ‘Olaf’ is now 10 months old and he, along with his ‘best friend’ and fellow joey ‘Regina’, have now reached the curious age where they are starting to leave Mum’s side and explore on their own – which means Keepers need to ensure they are continuing to grow happy and healthy without being with their mum at every moment.
The routine health checks include a weigh in on a special branch so that keepers are able to monitor any changes and signs of fluctuating health. The eldest joey, Olaf, weighed in at just under 2kg. For the smaller joey, Pearl, the weighing process involves her cuddling up to a toy koala before she is placed into a container on a set of scales.
After the koala joeys are weighed, keepers will look them over for any cuts, sores or other issues. Now that the joeys are exploring without their Mums, it is important to ensure the joeys are learning the essential skills a koala needs and are safely jumping between trees and climbing without hurting themselves.
Another important (and adorable!) part of the health check process is for Keepers to hold the joeys in their arms to get them used to being held, allowing for Keepers to closely monitor the health of the joeys as they grow into happy, healthy koalas.
Thankfully, keepers are happy to report the three joeys passed their first health checks with flying colours. They were rewarded with the freshest eucalyptus leaves available and received snuggles from keepers right after.
Head Mammals Keeper, Hewin Hochkins, said, “It’s more important now than ever that our koalas are receiving the best care they can. Our koalas are a big part of our family here, and sadly after the devastating bushfires Australia faced, population numbers in the wild have drastically reduced.”
Mr Hochkins continued, “Koalas are one of Australia’s most iconic animals, and it’s up to us to ensure that they’re around for many future generations to come. Thankfully, all of our joeys are growing up happy and healthy with their mums and will thrive under the care of our passionate koala keepers.”
Koala numbers have plummeted dramatically in the last 20 years due to habitat destruction, deforestation, fragmentation, car strikes and dog attacks. After the devastating ‘Black Summer’ bushfires that ravaged Australia in 2019/2020, wild populations are incredibly low.
Proud of being an active supporter of wildlife conservation, the Australian Reptile Park continues to breed koalas in an effort to help boost population numbers for the endangered species. The program also seeks to educate Australians about koalas and with this years’ breeding season seeing more joeys born into the program, staff hopes the additional joeys and heightened awareness helps protect the species from extinction.