The oldest zoo in the world has announced that a new koala baby has arrived way after spotting it in its mother’s pouch.
Zookeepers were thrilled to see the little one peeking from its mum Bunji’s pouch at the Tiergarten Schonbrunn zoo in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, 29th September.
This is reportedly Bunji’s second baby after she gave birth to Millaa Millaa in the middle of the COVID pandemic on 21st April 2022.
She had been named after a heritage-listed waterfall Millaa Millaa Falls in the Australian state of Queensland which is where this koala subspecies is native.
Millaa Millaa who is now fully grown will soon move to a new home as part of the EAZA Ex situ programmes (EEP).
Head of the Zoological Department Eveline Dungl said in a statement obtained by Newsflash: “Koalas are pregnant for around a month, the birth is rather unspectacular – hardly noticeable even for the care team.
“The mating took place in March, so the birth can be dated to April.”
Still underdeveloped and just the size of a gummy bear the baby, known as a joey, is blind and deaf when it crawls into its mother’s pouch from her birth canal to continue the rest of its development.
Koala young are born while at the embryonic stage, weighing only 0.5 g (0.02 oz), but they have relatively well-developed lips, forelimbs, and shoulders.
They feed on milk before their mothers begin preparing them for a eucalyptus diet at the age of six months.
Zoo Director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck said: “Koalas are relatively rarely kept in zoos outside of Australia, but are clearly an endangered species due to habitat loss.
“Another breeding success like this is a great pleasure for us.”
The zoo estimated that the joey’s development in the pouch will last up to six months which is when koala cubs begin to see and gain interest in the outer world.
Zookeepers would only be able to determine its gender later.
Koalas are classified as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, while the Australian Capital Territory, and the states of New South Wales and Queensland officially listed the species as ‘endangered’ as of February 2022.