With three fluffy bundles of joy being born into the Australian Reptile Park’s koala breeding program last year, three koala joeys are ready to take the next leap in their journey – they are heading off to preschool! ‘Olaf’, the son of world-famous koala ‘Elsa’, ‘Regina’ and ‘Petal’, are all settling in well as they explore their new yard and get to know each other.
With all three joeys being between 9 and 12 months old, they are at the stage where they start to become independent from mum and are ready to go off exploring on their own.
Mammals Keeper, Lauren Hunter, held each joey in her arms and let them take in the new smells of their environment and nibble on a few eucalyptus leaves. After a quick snuggle with Lauren, they excitedly jumped into the tree and made themselves right at home by eating every new leaf in sight.
Olaf and Regina are the two oldest joeys to join pre-school. Since they were the first koala joeys to be born in this year’s breeding season and are close in age, they’ve become inseparable ‘best friends’, and now Petal is joining the group!
Head of Mammals, Hewin Hochkins said, “It’s so heart-warming to see the friendship that these three have. They’ll be able to build their confidence together of exploring a different environment without their mum by their side and it’s great to see that they’ll be able to comfort each other whilst they adapt to their new yard!”
“Once these three get older, they’ll join our koala breeding program and act as ambassadors for saving this iconic Aussie animal. Unfortunately, koalas have now been classified as endangered, so they need our help now more than ever.” Mr Hochkins concluded.
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 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.