Recent births make koala parents among the most prolific in the country

Two koala joeys are just starting to explore the world outside their mothers’ pouches at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The furry little marsupials still stay close to their moms, but Zoo guests may catch a glimpse of them playing, napping or nibbling on eucalyptus leaves.

The recent births put at 11 the total number of koalas born at the Zoo since 1999. That’s more than at any other zoo in the country outside of San Diego Zoo, which brought koalas to North America in 1925 and helped Cleveland start its koala-breeding program eight years ago.

koala“Koala breeding can be very difficult in zoos, but we’re doing very well with it because of our compatible animals and the consistency of care we give them every single day,” said Scott Wright, koala keeper at the Zoo. “These are animals that really take a lot of attention, and we make them as comfortable as possible so they’re comfortable enough to breed here.”

Indeed, the Zoo’s adult male koala, Ouraka, has made himself at home in Cleveland, fathering all 11 joeys born here. Ten-year-old Ouraka came from the San Diego Zoo in 1999 with his female breeding partners Colliet and Midgee, who are 8 now.

The three koalas are among the most prolific in the country, living inside the Zoo’s GumLeaf Hideout and receiving 200 pounds of eucalyptus leaves to eat each week. Breeding them is a priority to ensure the Zoo and others in North America always will have koalas for people to connect with while learning about them and their threatened Australian habitat.