The cuddly baby koala climbed out of his mother’s pouch recently and can be seen by the public, according to the zoo.
The zoo announced the koala’s emergence this week in honor of Wild Koala Day and said he was born to first-time parents Maya and Burra in August. Since then, the joey has been developing and growing inside Maya’s pouch, the zoo said.
Guests can view the joey at the zoo’s Australia habitat as he begins to explore, nibble on eucalyptus leaves and rest on his mother’s lap.
“The L.A. Zoo has a long history with koalas, and a new generation of Angelenos will have the unique opportunity to see this joey grow up,” said Beth Schaefer, director of animal programs at the zoo.
Wild Koala Day is celebrated annually on May 3 to raise awareness about the threats koalas face in Australia, which include habitat destruction, bushfires, disease and drought. In 2019 and 2020, Australian bushfires burned more than 59 million acres of land, destroying native koala habitat, according to the zoo.
While often referred to as “koala bears,” koalas are not bears but are marsupials like kangaroos or opossums. Marsupials give birth to embryonic or premature babies — called joeys — that are roughly the size of a jellybean, according to the zoo.
Born after about 35 days, a joey uses its sense of smell and strong front legs with claws to climb up its mother’s fur into her downward-facing pouch. In the pouch, the joey attaches to its mother in order to nurse and continues developing for the next six months, the zoo said.