In a lot of ways, Children’s Zoo Senior Keeper Debra Barry of Adelaide Zoo in southern Australia finds raising young koalas similar to raising human babies. She describes them as very sensitive animals that are conscious of new things, places, and people. So, when baby koalas Lola and Cricket were found alone in the wild, their mothers chased away by dogs, Debra found it important to have many people help raise them from the start. Now, as the two koalas grow older, they become more and more comfortable interacting with and seeing new people in public. Also like human babies, koalas spend a lot of time eating and resting. They will sit motionless for about 16 to 18 hours every day, usually sleeping. When they do move, they generally spend the time eating. Their diet consists almost entirely of eucalyptus leaves that take a lot of energy to digest, making all that shut-eye a necessity.

While there are many populations of koalas across Australia, each one is different. Southern koalas typically have longer and browner fur than their gray northern relatives. This wooly fur coat protects them from both the hot and cold temperatures in their environment, and also keeps them dry when it rains. Southern koalas are also larger and heavier than northern koalas, weighing approximately 20 pounds more. During the early part of the 20th century, southern koalas were mostly eliminated from southern Australia, although the region has since been repopulated with other types of koala. To learn more, check out the koala page on Adelaide Zoo’s website!