The baby koala will stay close to mom for the next year, at which point it will be big enough to climb trees solo

By Kelli Bender
June 19, 2019 02:53 PM

A koala joey at ZooTampa at Lowry Park decided to pop out and say hello to its neighbors.

According to the Florida zoo, the marsupial baby emerged from its mother’s pouch for the first time this week, offering keepers and guests their first peek at the first koala joey to be born at the zoo.

Ceduna and Heathcliff are the parents of this unnamed koala cutie, and they are both handling their new childcare duties well.

“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 ZooTampa said in a statement. “The animal care team continues to monitor Ceduna and her baby closely as the joey’s exciting development continues.”

The joey started off as an embryo the size of a jellybean, later making the move to Ceduna’s pouch — where the baby will finish its final stages of development. Even after the joey gets bigger, it will still say close to mom, hanging on her back or belly until it is strong enough to climb trees solo. Most koalas start venturing out on their own after a year.

baby koala

ZooTampa is happy to meet their new resident face-to-face for the first time, especially since koala births are needed now more than ever. The marsupial, native to Australia, is listed as vulnerable by the ICUN Red List.

“We are proud to support conservation initiatives both at home and beyond,” Dr. Larry Killmar, senior vice president and chief zoological officer at ZooTampa, said. “Our partnership with the Australian government allows us to support the goals and objectives of the Koala Species Survival Plan.”

baby koala
Credit: Courtesy ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Ceduna, who arrived at the zoo in 2015, and Heathcliff, who came to ZooTampa in 2014, are the first koalas at the Florida zoo to successfully mate. They will be staying close to one another as their joey continues to grow.