Tidbinbilla staff have waited for weeks to catch their first glimpse of Buffy the Koala’s new baby.
On Sunday the brave little Koala joey poked its head from Buffy’s pouch to take a look at the big wide world.
Wildlife officer Corin Pennock was armed with a smartphone and captured the fluffy-faced marsupial wriggling around and checking things out.
A newborn Koala weighs less than a gram and looks a lot like a pink jelly bean. The blind hairless creature develops for several months in the mother’s pouch nourished by her milk as it grows eyes, ears and fur.
Senior wildlife officer Dr Jenny Pierson said the joey was likely to be six months old but it would be a few months until staff undertook a full health check and determined its sex.
“The video was the first time we saw the head pop out of the pouch,” she said. “We know it is about six months old because that is the age they start to pop their head out.”
The youngster has not yet been named and Dr Pierson said eager wildlife fans could keep an eye on the joey’s progress via Facebook and find out how staff plan to go about naming it. The young Koala only drinks its mother’s milk for the first six to seven months and remains in the pouch for that time, slowly growing and developing eyes, ears and fur. Soon the joey will start to wean from milk and transition to gum leaves. To do this the mother Koala passes on micro-organisms in her stomach to her pouch young through a specialised faecal substance called pap. Eating this is essential for the development of the joey to give it the gut bacteria needed to move to an adult diet. Introducing gum leaves to the joey’s diet will boost its growth and staff at the reserve expect this joey will be fully furred and soon hang out on its mother Buffy’s back. As the joey becomes more independent moving from the pouch to its mother’s back staff will conduct a full check of the joey’s body condition, teeth, weight and more. Over the coming weeks the joey would be more active and peer out from the pouch more often. Buffy and the baby koala can be seen at Tidbinbilla’s Eucalypt enclosure.
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