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Come face-to-face with one of our most iconic and beautiful Australian marsupials, the Koala, at Melbourne Zoo.
Koalas are found across the east of Australia, in coastal and inland areas from north-east Queensland to Eyre Peninsula in South Australia In Victoria, they inhabit low altitude forests and woodlands across central and southern mainland Victoria, and on Raymond, Snake, French and Phillip islands.
With their lean, muscular body and strong limbs, Koalas are well suited to life in the trees. Their front and hind legs are almost equal in length, with five-digit paws specially adapted for grip. Rough pads on the palms and soles and long claws on each digit help the Koala grip tree branches and trunks. On each front paw, two fingers act like thumbs to enable a tighter grip.
Sadly, Australia may be at risk of losing large populations of our Koalas. The greatest threat to Koalas is loss of habitat, due to either agriculture or housing development. Since European settlement, about 80% of their habitat has disappeared, and little of the remaining 20% is protected. A disease called Chlamydia is also contributing to the Koala’s declining numbers. Koalas are categorised as "vulnerable" in relation to their population in Queensland, NSW and the ACT. In Victoria, their status is listed as "near threatened".
- Koalas’ fur is different according to their habitat. It is longer and thicker in the south, where winters are colder
- Koala vocalisation sounds like a combination of a loud snore and a burp, and is called a ‘bellow’
- The brain of a Koala of average size weighs only 17 grams
- Koalas are not bears! They are marsupials, and give birth to tiny, barely formed young who finish development outside the mother’s body, in a pouch
- Koalas are mainly nocturnal. They spend about 18–20 hours sleeping because their metabolism is slow, an adaptation for handling a diet that is low in nutrition and hard to digest