There’s been koala joey fever at Australia Zoo over the past few months with the emergence of tiny fluffy faces from pouches and now, the season has become even more exciting with an incredibly rare white koala joey delighting guests who catch a glimpse of her.
This little joey does not have albinism where colour is absent from all physical characteristics including skin, fur and eyes however her extremely pale colouration is caused by a recessive gene and thought to be inherited from her mother Tia who has had other pale coloured joeys in the past.
Dr Rosie Booth, Director of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital said that it’s more unusual to see a koala with fur this light with eyes and skin remaining the usual brown black than it is to see a koala with albinism.
“In veterinary science it’s often referred to as the ‘silvering gene’ where animals are born with white or very pale fur and, just like baby teeth, they eventually shed their baby fur and the regular adult colouration comes through,” said Dr Rosie.
Koalas are known to vary in colouration depending on their environment with southern koalas being much darker and larger than those found in Queensland and New South Wales.
“In the wild animal kingdom, it’s actually quite unfortunate to have unusually light colouration as it makes animals stand out from their camouflage risking being spotted by potential predators so this little joey has hit the jackpot being born at Australia Zoo where every single person adores animals and gives them such great care,” she continued.
Australia Zoo’s white joey is yet to be named with Tourism Australia set to encourage naming suggestions via their Facebook album showcasing her beautiful snowy face.
As this little girl grows along with her fellow joeys, they can be spotted in Australia Zoo’s ‘Mums n Bubs’ enclosure where they become more adventurous with climbing every day and get their taste for eucalyptus leaves. But with vets anticipating an eventual colour change, it’s best to be quick to see the unusual beauty while she’s small.
Australia Zoo on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast is one of the only places in Australia where koalas can be cuddled as part of an experience. Australia Zoo also sponsors the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, renowned as a specialist medical facility for koala health and research as well as all other native Australian species.
Naming suggestions can be made on the Tourism Australia Facebook post for this gorgeous koala here: bit.ly/2wxYZHw