25 Jul 2014 13:44:37
Joey Watch: The Birth of our Baby Koala
The recent birth of our baby koala was not only a very special event but a rare one too.
As Koala births usually happen between dusk and dawn when it's cooler, they're an occurrence not often witnessed, so our team of animal keepers were extremely excited when Erica, the koala mother, was sighted in the birthing position on 22 October 2013 at 9.35am.
(If you're wondering what the birthing position looks like - imagine a koala sitting at the base of a tree with its back curled upwards and back legs beside its arms.)
Due to a short gestation (pregnancy) of only 34 days, baby koalas are born the size of a jellybean and only partially developed with its eyes closed, no ears or fur and its back legs just little stumps. But if you thought the tiny stature of the baby would mean a quick birth, you would be wrong - this particular birth took well over an hour.
After being born and guided by the smell of milk, a koala joey uses its front limbs to crawl up into their mothers pouch, where once safely inside it suckle on one of its mum's two teats - the teat will swell up in the joey's mouth to hold it in place. Here it'll remain for the next four months of its life as it grows big and strong.
- Date of birth: 22 October 2013
- Mum: Erica (aged 9)
- Dad: Jay (aged 7)