It’s spring in Australia, and the Healesville Sanctuary finally got a look at a baby Koala that is just beginning to explore outside of mom’s pouch.
Born the size of a jelly bean to first-time parents Hazel and Noojee, the unnamed male joey has spent the past six months growing in Hazel’s pouch.
“When he was first born, he was pink, hairless and tiny,” said Koala Keeper Kristy Eriksen.
“We watched him make his way from the birth canal to the pouch completely unaided, relying on his already well-developed senses of smell and touch and an innate sense of direction,” Eriksen said.
The joey recently began exploring more and more, with his confidence growing each time he ventures out of Hazel’s pouch. Soon he will be riding on Hazel’s back and will eventually graduate to climbing trees all on his own – under mom’s watchful eye, of course.
Koalas are marsupials, a group of mammals that give birth to highly underdeveloped young. The newborn crawls on its own from the birth canal into a pouch on the mother’s body. Inside the pouch, the tiny infant, called a joey, attaches to a teat where it nurses and completes its development. After a few months, the joey begins to peek out of the pouch. Even after emerging completely from the pouch, a joey will seek refuge there, even when it can barely fit inside.
Despite being Australia’s most iconic animal, Koalas are under significant threat due to habitat destruction and fragmentation for agricultural and urban development. Koalas are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Don’t miss more photos of Hazel and her joey below!