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  • Koala in the Australia enclosure at Zurich Zoo.


    Phascolarctos cinereus

    Koalas are food specialists. They feed exclusively on the leaves and bark of eucalyptus trees. Usually, a koala uses no more than five to ten different eucalyptus trees in its territory. The animals are very choosy, because the leaves contain toxins, which the koala can tolerate to a certain extent. However, if it eats too much of it, even a koala can die from it. With their sense of smell they prefer to choose slightly younger or older leaves, depending on the species and the season. It is important that the leaves contain as few toxins as possible. Before the leaves are eaten, they are sniffed extensively and then chewed in their mouths for a long time until they are swallowed.
    Many dangers lurk for koalas: Natural enemies are dingoes, eagles, monitor lizards and pythons. Stray dogs, swimming pools and cars are also major hazards. Furthermore, long dry seasons, bush fires and construction projects can have dramatic consequences. If a road is built through its territory, the koala will remain on this side of the road on which it was when the road was built. He will hardly ever cross the road again. The part of the territory on the other side of the road is lost for him.

    Related to Marsupials (320 species), koala (3 subspecies)
    Habitat Sparse eucalyptus forests
    Mode of life Arboreal, for locomotion rarely also on the ground, nocturnal, sleep up to 20 hours per day
    Social structure Solitary, but in overlapping territories
    Diet Daily 400 to 600 g of leaves and bark of 5 to 10 different eucalyptus species, rarely fruits of eucalyptus trees
    Weight Females 6 to 11 kg, males 8 to 12 kg (animals in the colder south are usually larger), newborns less than 1 g
    Head-torso length 61 - 85 cm
    Tail length 1 - 2 cm
    Mating season October till April
    Gestation time 35 days, then at least 160 days in the pouch
    Litter size 1 young
    Age of sexual maturity 2 - 3 years
    Life expectancy Females 15 years (in zoos up to 19 years), males 10 years
    Utilization Formerly fur, cultural symbol in Australia (politics, sports, science)
    Population trend 45,000 to 80,000 animals, reintroduced in some regions and on islands, extirpated in some regions, sometimes considered pests
    At Zurich Zoo since 2018, internationally coordinated breeding (EEP)


    Verbreitungskarte Koala


    Arrival of the koalas at Zurich Zoo.

    Koala checks eucalyptus leaves. (Photo from the Australian Reptile Park.)

    Koala eating eucalyptus leaves (Photo taken at Australian Reptile Park.)


    TÉA E. Bier, Luxemburg
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    Conservation status

    IUCN RedList

    Breeding programme