A ray of sunlight streamed down on what looked like a pink gummy bear that was lying on the floor. When keeper Katie Tomlinson spotted the tiny “blob,” she realized it was a newborn koala joey. The hairless, jelly-bean-size baby had most likely fallen to the ground after birth, before it could climb into mom Nariah’s pouch. Katie was very concerned: she knew that time was of the essence if they were going to save this baby’s life.
It’s unusual to find a newborn koala on the ground, yet Katie hoped its life could be saved. The infant was alive but cold—so she created a “nest” out of a small, warm towel. Then the baby and its mother were rushed to the San Diego Zoo’s hospital.
A veterinarian would attempt a life-saving measure that had never been tried before!
The San Diego Zoo has the largest colony of koalas outside of Australia. Our colony is thriving in their new spacious, outdoor area in Australian Outback, where visitors can get a close-up look at these endearing marsupials. We are also working with partners in Australia on various projects for koalas, including fitting some animals with radio collars to monitor their travels, studying their genetic diversity in the wild, and determining the impact of male koala scent marking and “bellowing” on reproductive success.