TAMPA, Fla. — ZooTampa at Lowry Park shared adorable pictures and video of a koala joey peeking out of its mother's pouch for the first time on Monday. The baby koala is the first born at the zoo in its history.
According to the zoo, newborn koalas develop inside the mother pouches instead of a womb. They start as the size of a jellybean.
"Initially, a joey is blind and earless and relies on natural instincts and strong sense of touch and smell to find its way from the birth canal to its mother's pouch," the zoo said in a press release.
The mother koala, named Ceduna, has been as the zoo since 2015. The father, Heathcliff, arrived in 2014. They are both part of the zoo's effort to conserve koalas through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
"We do routine check-ups with Ceduna to build strong bonds with her and ensure the highest quality of care," Lauren Smith, D.V.M. veterinarian at the zoo said. "The animal care team continues to monitor Ceduna and her baby closely as the joey's exciting development continues."
Koalas are one of Australia's most iconic animals. They spend up to 95% of their life alone, and primarily live in forests and woodlands. They spend up to five hours a day eating eucalyptus plant leaves.
ZooTampa says they are committed to continuing to aid in the conservation of the species, which has survived the threat of extinction from hunting and habitat loss.
"We are proud to support conservation initiatives both at home and beyond," Dr. Larry Killmar said. "Our partnership with the Australian government allows us to support the goals and objectives of the Koala Species Survival Plan."
Killman is the senior vice president and chief zoological officer at ZooTampa.
The joey will begin climbing trees on its own when it reaches one-year-old.