At the Zoo: The Queensland Koala
To just about everyone, koalas look cute and cuddly. They are even often called “koala bears,” because of their resemblance to teddy bears. But actually, they are not related to bears. These Australian natives have sharp nails and teeth that are well suited to hanging on in the treetops and stripping leaves from the branches of eucalyptus trees. Koalas are marsupials, the family of animals with pouches, such as kangaroos and opossums. A koala’s pouch has the opening at the bottom with a drawstring-like muscle to keep it closed.
There is no denying though that koalas are cute, especially our pair, “Heathcliff” and “Ceduna.” Our male, “Heathcliff,” was the first to arrive at the Zoo and has made himself right at home. He eats fresh eucalyptus leaves imported especially for him and sleeps the day away, which is what koalas do best. In fact, koalas sleep about 20 hours a day. Our female, “Ceduna,” who is younger, recently arrived to join “Heathcliff.” She has a lively and friendly personality that keeps her curious about her new surroundings. We hope that when they are a bit older, “Heathcliff” and “Ceduna” will be a compatible couple and produce a baby.
“Heathcliff” and “Ceduna” live in an enclosed exhibit area specially designed to keep them comfortable by controlling the temperature and humidity. They also go outdoors sometimes to get sunshine and exercise. To keep them entertained, we give the pair mirrors, boomer balls, and bubbles scented with eucalyptus to explore. Their enclosure is soundproof, so when playtime is over, they can get back to their important business of sleeping without any disturbance.
About: The Queensland Koala
Scrubland and eucalyptus forests.
Coastal regions of eastern Australia.
Weight: 26 pounds (male), 17 pounds (female).
Only eucalyptus leaves.
Fun Facts: The Queensland Koala
- Koalas aren’t bears, as they are commonly called, but instead are marsupials, related to kangaroos.
- Newborn koalas are the size of a jelly bean and are hairless and blind when born.
- After birth, the koala makes its way to its mother’s pouch, where it lives for 7 months.
- Koala babies are called “joeys,” like wallabies and kangaroos.
- A koala’s thick fur protects it from heat, cold, and rain.
- Koalas only eat one food, eucalyptus leaves.
- Koala’s smell like cough drops because they eat so much eucalyptus, a common ingredient in cough drops.
- Koalas from colder southern areas of Australia have thicker fur than those from northern Australia.
- Male koalas rub their chests against trees to mark their territory.
- Although there are 600 species of eucalyptus trees in Australia, koalas are very particular and only eat a few types.
Conservation: The Queensland Koala
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a participant in the Koala Education and Conservation Program, an initiative led by San Diego Zoo Global to bring together koala holders in North America and Europe to enhance the long-term survival and sustainability of both wild and zoo-housed koalas.
The Zoo is home to many endangered, threatened, and vulnerable wildlife species. We take excellent care of more than 1,300 animals in a lush tropical garden that is open to the public 363 days a year, so that we can share their stories with you.
We participate in nearly 100 AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, cooperative breeding, and conservation programs to help ensure species survival.
How You Can Help
Adopt an Animal!
You can help support expert animal care at the Zoo as well as local and global conservation efforts by purchasing a symbolic animal adoption package.
When you become a member of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo you are supporting conservation year-round.
Be a Conservation Leader!
Each of us can help protect the environment, wildlife, and habitats through choices we make in our daily lives. Even small changes can make big positive impacts on the world around us.
- Slow down – Many local wildlife species are at risk of getting hit by cars. When driving anywhere be on the lookout for all types of animals trying to cross the road.
- Keep cats indoors – Keeping your cat indoors saves thousands of animal lives each year.
- Cover your swimming pool – Many local wildlife species can drown in backyard swimming pools.
- Plant a tree – Eucalyptus trees are very important to koalas, but in the United States oak trees are important to many different species. Oaks leaves, twigs, bark, and acorns provide lots of food for wildlife. When the tree gets older and large enough it can even become a home. Providing more trees in urban and suburban areas help wildlife in your neighborhood.