By Charles Wade-Palmer
An adorable young koala which is the UK’s only joey has sent zoo staff into meltdown with its cuteness.
The latest arrival to the UK’s only group of koalas was still curled up inside mum’s pouch until very recently when it was pictured out of the pouch for the first time this week.
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo keepers announced the birth of a joey in Koala Territory back in January but only now is the irresistible looking bear starting to emerge and to the delight of visitors.
Lorna Hughes, Team Leader for koalas at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said “We are really happy that the joey has started to fully emerge.
“At seven months old the joey is almost too big to fit inside mother’s pouch, which means it will now be venturing outside more regularly.
“Soon it will begin riding on Alinga’s back until it becomes independent at around 12 months.
“Soon we will be able to begin weighing the new addition and determine its sex so we can name it.”
The youngster yet to be named was born on January 31 to mum Alinga and dad Goonaroo, and Alinga will carry him around on her back until it is around twelve months old.
When it reaches sexual maturity, it will go on become part of the European breeding programme.
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to have koalas and this new arrival is testament to the Zoo’s animal husbandry expertise.
As members of the European Breeding Programme for Queensland Koalas, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo makes regular contributions that support conservation projects in Australia that help to rehabilitate and release sick and injured koalas back into their natural habitat.
Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are native to eastern Australia and are currently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
The main threats facing koala populations are habitat loss, wildfires and climate change.