By Jasmine Kazlauskas and Jack Rees
These adorable baby koalas have melted hearts across the world after being filmed exploring their new home after leaving their mother’s pouch for the first time.
The loveable joeys were captured clinging to their mothers at crocodile hunter Steve Irwin’s renowned Australia Zoo located on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, last week [6 AUGUST].
The koala joeys will remain with their mums for a year while they learn crucial life skills such as climbing, grooming and finding the best eucalyptus leaves to munch on.
A special breeding program is set in place at the zoo to conserve the species, whose populations have declined in recent years due to disease habitat loss and pollution.
There are currently eight koala joeys of different ages who will begin to come out of their mother’s pouches over the next few months – with four of the joeys already starting to emerge.
The eldest joey Maple, seven months, is the only koala to be named as of yet – with the other joeys being named by members of the public or after local businesses over the next few weeks.
Australia Zoo’s head koala keeper Kirsten Lathan said: “It’s great to see some of our koala joeys testing out their new home and sampling the fresh eucalyptus leaves.
“The eldest of the joeys are starting to make regular appearances out of the pouch and are learning a number of vital skills, including sitting by themselves.
“Interestingly, this year has been a dominant season for girls with most of the koala joeys being female.
“They will become more adventurous at climbing each day and will get a taste for eucalyptus leaves”.
Koalas are marsupials who carry young in their pouches, similar to other Australian animals such as kangaroos, wombats and possums.
Newborn koala joeys weigh only half a gram and are the size of a kidney bean, and will stay inside their mother’s pouch until they are around seven months old.
At this stage they will begin climbing on their mother’s back for short periods and are usually fully independent at 12 months of age.