Koala

These two furry, eucalyptus-loving marsupials are on loan to the Santa Barbara Zoo through April 2019 to bring awareness of the challenges facing not only koalas but many Australian species.

EDMUND

  • Was born on September 1, 2015 at the Los Angeles Zoo (LAZ)
  • Was sired by Lincoln, a koala born at the Taronga Zoo in Australia
  • Is “very people-oriented and personable,” according to LAZ keepers
  • Has small pink spots at the base of his nose, and fur grows close to his eyes

THACKORY

  • Was born June 15, 2011 at the San Diego Zoo (SDZ)
  • Was a particularly large joey—his name is the Aboriginal word for “heavy”
  • Is a favorite of SDZ keepers for his “very laid-back Southern Californian personality” and because “he takes things in stride”
  • Has large pink marks near the base of his nose, and distinct pink rings around his eyes
  • Has also represented the SDZ Koala Loan Program at Zoo New England in 2013 and Indianapolis Zoo in 2015

From the Keepers

“Guests often ask ‘why can’t I hold Edmund or Thackory?’ Some koalas raised by humans are used to being held, especially in Australia where orphaned or rehabilitated wild koalas can be held. But most koalas, especially those in U.S. zoos, are not trained to be held. It is dangerous for anyone other than a trained zoo professional to try to hold them, as they have sharp claws and can bite.”
– Dr. Julie Barnes, Director of Animal Care & Health
 

Conservation Status

The koala itself is protected throughout Australia, but its habitat is not. Many conservation groups are pushing to have koalas listed as “endangered” to provide more protection both for the species and its habitat. The IUCN Red List lists them as “vulnerable.”

Donate Your Green Waste

Many of the Zoo’s animals, like gorillas and giraffes, eat several pounds of plant material, or browse, every day. The animals eat branches and leaves from specific trees and shrubs, such as bamboo and grapevines. See if your green waste will make a good meal at sbzoo.org/browse.

“I’m Not Sleeping, Mate, I’m Digesting!”

Koalas sit, rest, or sleep in trees for up to 20 hours a day. They do this to conserve energy, as it takes a lot of work and a long time to digest their leafy food. Koalas can eat up to 1.5 pounds of food a day, almost exclusively the leaves of different kinds of eucalyptus trees. Adult males (like Edmund and Thackory) weigh between 6 and 12 pounds. That’s like eating 13 to 25 percent of their body weight – in just leaves – in just one day!

Hand-Selected Eucalyptus

Take a tour of the different varieties of eucalyptus grown by the Australian Outback Plantation in Arizona, where the Zoo gets food for koalas.

Challenges Down Under

Edmund and Thackory are in Santa Barbara as adorable ambassadors from the “Land Down Under.” The quintessential Aussie animal, wild koalas are found nowhere else in the world. But their island continent now faces major challenges that threaten not only koalas but many other animal and plant species native to Australia. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, prolonged drought and other extreme weather events, and predation by feral cats and dogs are among them. It’s not just on land. Australia’s oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef, also face the impacts of sea level rise, ocean warming, and increasing seawater acidity, among others.